The Bridge at Roddy Creek

Welcome to the new year, I hope everyone is coping well. As many of you know, the east coast here in the U.S. is going through some very cold and severe winter weather and it seems like we are getting snow here every week. Yesterday the sun finally came out and I thought that I would revisit some old haunts to get a different snow covered perspective on things. At this point and time it was late afternoon and as usual I was fighting for daylight. However in recent years I have resolved myself to the idea that in photographic terms, if you want to go out and shoot something, then shoot it, providing you have the means to get there. Such is the case with the shot in this post. I was sitting around with some time on my hands, just itching to get out with my camera when I thought ” I wonder what the covered bridge at Roddy creek looks like with all this snow?” That’s it. That’s all it took to get me out the door. I just grabbed my camera, one lens, a tripod and went. As I was flying down the highway to get to my destination before dark, I slowly realized that the road this historic covered bridge lies on is very rural and the chance that any snow plow has cleared it would be slim to none. Oh well. Too late to think about that now. When I got to Roddy creek road I could see that if anything, the road was barely passable. The road itself is pretty short so I decided to just go slow and steady in my little car until I got to the bridge. Once I got there I found a small patch of ice on the side of the road that gave me just enough room to park. The snow covered bridge and the creek that ran beneath it was a site to behold.

There was snow everywhere and since there was no leaves on the trees, I had plenty of light and did not have to use my tripod. There is a concrete barrier that runs along the creek to keep cars from going  in and it was the perfect brace for me to lean on to get my shots, as there was no way I could stand on the icy boulders that line the creek itself. The barrier allowed me to lean in as far as I could without falling in and take my shot. I first found this place last summer when I was doing some research on historic bridges in Maryland that I could shoot. I got a lot of photos of the bridge back then but haven’t had the time to post them. Someday I hope to. As the title implies, this is a bridge that crosses Roddy creek in Thurmont, MD. which is near where I live. It is one of only six existing bridges in the entire state of Maryland and this one is the smallest. It is believed to have been built around 1856. More info on the bridge is HERE.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/100 @ f/8


Harpers Ferry

Kayakers take on the Potomac river in Harpers Ferry WV.

Canon 5D markII, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/400 @ f/11


Main field at Ladew.

Canon 5D markII, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/500 @ f/5.6


One of the many things I like to do when out shooting is to explore abandoned structures that leave little if any clues to their former existence. The trouble is that with a full-time work schedule, it can be hard to find the time to do so. There are two Photographers David and Brandon who do this very well among others. If you haven’t checked out their work yet, I highly suggest you do so. Anyway, I was at work one day when I heard a story on a local radio program about an abandoned mill house on the C&O canal that belonged to a quarry that cut the red sandstone used in many homes and landmarks here including the Smithsonian’s castle building. As the story goes, red sandstone basically fell out of favor (for the life of me I don’t know why), and in 1900, the quarry was shut down. This meant that the mill house was closed as well. As one can imagine, the mill house fell in serious disrepair. In fact, there is nothing left but the stone walls and even some of those are falling apart. Upon hearing this story I realized that this mill is close to my home, so getting there shouldn’t be a problem. Wrong. After about a three hour search which, included driving, walking the canal from lock to lock, asking anyone on the trail for mile marker 23, and jump off the trail looking for any red sandstone structure I could find, I finally found the ruins of the mill house. From my perspective, what is left of the house is absolutely beautiful. I spent a few hours here on an overcast and rain threatening day, and intend to return back in the fall when the leaves on the trees that have matured inside the old building start to display their wonderful fall colors. I decided to post a photo in B/W this time, but will have a color version posted later.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 100, 0.5 @ f/8

Violets lock

I work in the construction industry and I have my own company. I also have been into photography for a very long time. Does the two ever conflict with each other? Immensely. With the economy being what it is, especially in our industry, I am fortunate to keep very busy, so where there’s work, I take it. This comes with a price though. Since I am always fearful of business drying up, I work a lot of hours, and unfortunately to the sacrifice of my photography. Not to worry though, as I have learned to take whatever limited time I have and make the best of it. The other day I had the whole day to myself minus an appointment with a client. I had decided to get out with my camera and get some shooting in. One thing I have learned over the years is that when you have time off for shooting, try not to hit too many places just because your time limited, or you will wind up with nothing.

That is when I decided to head down to Violets lock on the C&O canal. It is a great place for shooting and all I have to do is walk in a straight line and come back. I was pretty happy with this scenario and as I drove down the highway to meet my customer, I kept a mental note of the possible spots for me to get some good photos. Fate, as it seems, had other plans. Right before I got to the job site , the client called and changed the appointment to late in the afternoon, which for me meant that instead of  getting my meeting done early and having the rest of the afternoon to myself, I really only had a couple of hours to get to the lock, snap a few photos, meet the client, and then try to get back on the highway before rush hour fully kicks in.

I decided not whine about it and proceed with the new plan. As soon as I got to the canal, for some reason, my brain just froze. I just stood there with no clue of what to shoot even though I have been here a million times. As I walked the canal I kept having this mental block the whole way and therefore, shot nothing. My time at the canal was winding down and that’s when I came across the large rock you see in the photo above. That’s when I realized that I wouldn’t let something like time keep me from my goal. I set my gear up and kept shooting just this one rock until it was time to go. Total shooting time was about twenty minutes. After I got home and uploaded the shots, I found that I was quite happy with what I had accomplished for such a short period of time.

The truth is that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what gear you have (although I am the first to admit I obsess over mine), or how much time you are given to accomplish your task, it is up the the person behind the camera that makes the shot and no one else.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/200 @ f/8

The building that wasn’t there

I took this shot of an office building in downtown D.C. a few months ago. I dig glass buildings because sometimes their reflections can be great. I happened to be walking past this building on the right day, and at the right time. I was going to post this shot in color, but at the last minute I converted it to black and white. The building is reflecting the sky in front of it, as the reflection blends into the sky behind the building, as if the building is disappearing in front of your eyes.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 160, 1/500 @ f/16

On the fly

A few months back I finally decided to check out a creek that has caught my attention for over twenty years. It is called “Seneca creek”. Due to the fact that my work has me traveling all over the metro area, I have passed this place over and over and always thought, “This looks like the perfect place for me and the dog”. The main reason I never stopped was the fact that there is no parking. I mean none. In fact, even though this is part of a state park, the only place for a vehicle is on the shoulder next to the road. Since the road is a major one and heavily used, The idea of me grabbing my gear and the dog at the same time while crossing it wasn’t too appealing to me. Nonetheless on this occasion I decided to just bring one lens, my camera, and of course my tripod.

As soon as I made my way into the creek, I instantly knew that this place was going to be my favorite. Very wide with big sweeping curves, beautiful canopy, and all of the downed trees seemed to have fallen perfectly in the right places. Some created bridges, while others offer great places to sit on high banks while you enjoy the view. For the most part, the entire thing was a bit overwhelming to me as there was so much to shoot and I couldn’t focus on where to start. Eventually I decided to just scope out the place and come back later. While I was scouting I noticed the man you see in the photo above fly fishing. After following him down the creek for about an hour, I finally caught up with him. He noticed my gear and told me that I came to the right place to get some good photos. “I know” I replied and proceeded to ask him for a little history of the creek that we were now both standing in.

He told me that Seneca creek was a major tributary to the Potomac river that divides Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., which explains the width and depth of the creek. He also said that every year the state stocks this part of the creek with about 10-15,000 trout and that I had just arrived on the tale end of a fly fishing frenzy. Apparently he was there to try and get what was left. After talking for about an hour, I decided to get shots of him fishing from a distance so I wouldn’t get in way. I had so much fun that I came back the next day for about six hours and the day after that. As I write this post I am already thinking of grabbing the “Ghost dog” and having some fun for a few hours. She has had no water time so far this summer and with the heat index reported to be anywhere from 106 to 115, I think she will be more than happy to try her hand at a little fly fishing even if all she has is four paws and a snout covered in mud.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 160, 1/20 @ f/8


These days with my life being as busy as it it is, I still shoot when I can. That means either shooting early in the morning, or after work. Recently I have been doing the latter. As of late, I have been going to one of the closest mountains to me called “Sugarloaf”. As far as mountains go, it is not very big, but the views are decent and the forrest along the trails is quite nice. The only problem for me is that if I get there too late in the day, there isn’t enough daylight to shoot in the forrest as the canopy is a bit thick.  When I find myself  in such a situation, I will go to my favorite spot on the mountain – a big rock formation that is few hundred yards long and at least 80 feet high.  The nice thing about this spot is that A: It is not too far off one of the trails, and B: there is very little canopy above this formation, so I have enough light to shoot for hours, and I usually do. While everyone else are walking the trails to the summit, or gazing over one of the overlooks, I am quite content to stay at this big rock formation shooting from every angle, playing with filters, or just studying the rocks themselves. I find it amazing how millions of years of being in every kind of weather has shifted, carved, or simply eroded these rocks to the state that they are in today.

Tech Canon 5D markII, Ef 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 100, .3 sec @ f/8

The Ghost Dog and Me

Last holiday weekend I had a few hours for myself and since it was blazing hot, I decided to grab my gear and the dog (Sia) and go do what I call “creek jumping”. Creek jumping is me taking my gear and following a creek in it’s waters occasionally jumping out because of obstacles or mud (I’ve been stuck up to my knees before), then jumping back in. Hence the term. Sia loves it because she gets to sniff out frogs, turtles, snakes, etc. and I enjoy it because I get to take photos in a peaceful environment while getting some one on one time with my dog. The bonus is when I do have to get out of the creek and maneuver through tall grass, Sia is always good at sniffing out Deer trails for us to walk on and making sure that there are no snakes in our way. Sometimes we’ll jump a creek for a few hours and sometimes for five or six. During the course of shooting, Sia will wander into the shot. This doesn’t bother me since I’ll just keep shooting until she wanders out of the frame. The photo above is the result of such a situation. Since I am shooting on a tripod with a slow shutter speed, Sia is only partially in focus as her movements are too fast for the camera. I am hoping that she and I will have more time like this during the summer and maybe even spend some time in the Monocacy river.

Tech:Canon 5D mark II, Ef 30 L 1.4, ISO 100, 1/8 @f/11

Great Blue Heron (female)

Tech:Canon 5d mark II, Ef 70-200 L 4 IS, ISO 160, 1/60@f/8

The Forest

For some reason this place reminds me of  Lord Of The Rings.

Tech:Canon 5D mark II, Ef 35mm L 1.4, ISO 160, 1/160@f/8

The Black Pool

Tech:Canon 5D mark II, Ef 35mm L 1.4, ISO 160, 1/200@f8


Last monday I got off of work early and since I was near the Potomac river, I decided to hike the canal next to it to see the results of the previous weekend’s storm. The river near where I live had flooded pretty bad, and I wanted to see what was going on with the Potomac. I had only plan to stay for about and hour, but when I arrived there and saw how raging the river was, my plans for a quick shoot went right out the window. As I walked along it was easy to see that everywhere I normally walk off the trail was completely flooded. It was simply mesmerizing. There were clumps of trees about five feet in diameter and as long as school buses flying down the river as if they were rigged with outboard motors. And the sound of the water was loud. Very loud. All of the trails leading off the canal were closed for safety, so I stayed on the canal, which was fine with me because there was lots of things to shoot. There are parts where the canal meanders away from the river and I would forget about it, and just lose myself in the scenery. It was at these points where I kept thinking that I should get back to my van and go home, but the trail would wind up near the river again and I just kept going. After about six miles of doing this, I came upon a part of the canal where you can walk over this little bridge and stand over a small waterfall. Needless to say, due to the current circumstances, this small waterfall was now a raging beast and the bridge understandably, was closed. People started to gather to get a close-up view of this truly great event and that is when I met another photographer who had the same thing in mind as I did. Get a better shot of the waterfall. “I bet if we climbed down these rocks next to the falls we could get a better shot” he said. “Just remember if you fall, you die.” “Let’s go” I replied. I followed him down these series of boulders and about halfway down is when I realized that the lens on my camera was not wide enough to get the shot I wanted. There was no way for me to change lenses next to a raging waterfall, so I decided to see just how far down I had to go to get my shot with the lens I had on my camera. As I turned to see how far down I was, The unthinkable happened. I slipped. It wasn’t the kind of slip one does when when you say, slip on some ice, but it was pretty damn close. My heart stopped. Not wanting to give up, I climbed off the boulders and found a dry spot to change lenses. I went back out onto the boulders and proceeded to find a spot where I could get my shot and not lose my life. I found a flat spot at the end of the falls where I could stand and lean on the boulder in front of me. One caveat though, and that was the fact that the boulder I was standing on was about two inches away from the falls. In fact, the water kept rushing over my feet. To get my shot I had to grip the boulder in front of me with one hand while shooting with the other. After getting the shots I wanted, I climbed off the rocks, got back on the trail, and started heading back to my van, shooting all the way until I ran out of cards.

Tech:Canon 5D mark II, Ef 35mm L 1.4, ISO 160, 1/800@f/8

Old soul

I have posted part of this machine before, but this time I thought I would post a larger version of him.

Tech:Canon5D mark II, Ef 35mm L 1.4, ISO 320, 1/160@f/11

The arbor and the birdhouse

Tech:Canon 5d mark II, Ef 35mm L 1.4, ISO 100, 1/250@f/8

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