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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Old Rag Mountain: August, 2018

Lately I’ve been slowly working my way through unedited personal sets in my photo library. This week’s offering is from last Summer, when I finally got to hike Old Rag once again. After my Spring, 2017 knee mishap which led to surgery and a long recovery in PT, this was my first time hiking Old Rag since making a full recovery.

My friend Patrick, who you may recognize from many of my car posts, and I hit the trail on a steamy August mid-morning. I’d come to find out later that day there were other people I know on the mountain at the same time we were, but we simply never crossed paths; funny how that works sometimes.

Old Rag is the tallest peak in Shenandoah National Park, and naturally provides some of the most incredible panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley. It is known for its extensive granite rock scrambles along the trail with some locations along the trail and at the summit offering opportunities for bouldering or full-on rock climbing for those feeling more daring.

All photos in this post are available for print here.

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If you’re unfamiliar, parts of the trail run through and under the massive granite boulders; here, the trail proceeds up a natural staircase inside the opening between the rocks, in the center of the frame below. As you ascend and eventually descend the mountain, you can changes in foliage, ground composition, and wildlife.

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Smithsonian National Zoological Park: August, 2016

Continuing with my focus on closing out personal projects from 2016, here are photos from a trip to the National Zoo.  This was only the second time I've been to DC's Zoo (I've been to the St. Louis Zoo many times), and I actually barely remember my first time, which was in middle school. The only thing I remember from that field trip was we had to do some lame scavenger hunt, and we finished at the prairie dogs before getting back onto the bus.  This trip was much more enjoyable, however I STILL have not seen a panda, and this trip was on Bao Bao, Bei Bei, and Tian Tian's birthday; I saw the cake but not the pandas!  Same goes for the elephants; the exhibit was completely open, but the elephants were nowhere to be found.

I thought the most fascinating birds were the Roseate spoonbills, which apparently are very common in Central America, and into parts of the US' Gulf Coast.  These guys were not very intimidated and would freely walk close by.

The Browne Family

For many years now, I've been very closely connected Washington Dulles International Airport based on my time working for the Airports Authority, which continues today as a private business.  It has only been over the past several years that my photography has brought me to directly know Dulles' Airport Manager, and come to know him and his family.  With their son headed off to the Marine Corps, and the rest of the family soon busy with work and school, Chris' family asked me to take some pictures while everyone was still in town this Summer. This wasn't the first time I have photographed the Browne family (and certainly not the first time Chris has been in front of my lens) - the Brownes love having a great time, and will always make you feel welcome, both in their home, and going out... perhaps to a vineyard...

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (February 2013)

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a place I've wanted to visit for several years, but haven't for various reasons.  After visiting St. Louis' World Bird Sanctuary in December, I felt even more irked that I've put off going for so long.  I knew that eagle nesting season was coming up, beginning in February and ending in late March.  Unfortunately I put off my visit until Valentine's Day when the eagles were already nesting and not as active, but that's OK, because I know I'll be going back again! Again, the folks I've met in Maryland parks (or in this case, a National Wildlife Refuge operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service and a non-profit formed in 1987) are some of the friendliest, most helpful people.  I didn't happen upon a ranger with an ATV and spare time on his hands like my last experience in Maryland, but I was advised by a very helpful woman from the Friends of Blackwater who was kind enough to reference the most recent eagle sighting logs.

Other than some ducks, geese, and a formation of Warthogs, my day began with nothing in sight.  No birds, wildlife, or squirrels, let alone the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrels Blackwater is known for.  I also found that the wildlife blind was useless, as there was no wildlife around.  I later used my car as a mobile blind.

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It wasn't long before I came across this Great Blue Heron; we almost ran into each other - we were about 20 feet apart before we noticed each other.  For this reason it allowed me to stay close and watch as it fished for tadpoles.  I was very shocked it was perfectly happy fishing with me just 6 feet away, as though I didn't exist.

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Sunset was coming quickly, and I wanted to be in a pretty spot along the shoreline.  Along the way I spotted some Red-Winged Blackbirds, and stopped to watch the sun drop below the horizon not far from a pod of Pelicans.

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Earlier in the day I'd spotted a single Bald Eagle, in its nest 1/2 mile away.  But it was after the sun had set that I finally began seeing both Golden and Bald Eagles take to the skies.  As I was leaving, I spotted a pair of Bald Eagles flying off into the dusk, and a lone Great Blue Heron on the water.

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The Laverdures, Fall 2011

Lessons learned!  While behind the scenes there was some disagreement over what to wear, the Laverdures were a fun family to shoot with, and they all had a good time making each other laugh during the session. There have been several instances where I've wanted to blog about some photography session rules of thumb, be that engagements, weddings, fashion portraiture, or in this case family portraits.  There are recurring themes for portrait sessions I always discuss with clients before the shoot, such as wardrobe, makeup, lighting, and others - and while I always discuss these things, I've thought for quite some time that it would be helpful to have a list of things to consider before a portrait session.  Stay tuned for a blog post about things to keep in mind; right now I'm in the midst of my (super) Senior finals - that means one thesis for my BA in Government & International Politics and a 2nd thesis for my Minor in Psychology.  Needless to say, I have other things more pressing to write about until Christmas!

Here is a sampler of the Laverdures' shoot at Lake Anna!...  Also, don't forget to "Like" my Facebook Page!

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