Beauty All Around

Location, location, location.

One of the things I love the most about photography is that you can take it with you wherever you go. There are always ways of getting creative and artsy, of using what’s around you to full effect in the pursuit of that next great shot, but let’s be honest: nothing beats a great view. To that end, mother nature is the ultimate friend for any photographer, and I will be eternally grateful for the endless opportunities she provides me.

And of course the wonderful thing about learning to appreciate nature is that it’s literally everywhere. Go look out the nearest window, right this very moment. There it is.

Now, we all dream of the chance to travel to Aruba or Shrilanka, or perhaps Alaska, but big adventures often aren’t the norm and we must make the best of what we have during less exciting times. Fortunately for me, I live in Virginia, which is particularly lovely in the Fall. So even during less adventurous periods of life, there are plenty of beautiful spots nearby, if only I care to look for them.

I live in an adorable little neighborhood called Hilton Village, which is in Newport News, Virginia. Here is a shot I took while walking my son the school:

HiltonFall

And here is another I took while walking home after dropping him off:

HiltonAutumn

I have a tendency to get so focused on the day-to-day tasks of adult life that I walk right through this sort of beauty on my way to the next thing, but when I just slow down and remember to take in my surroundings, I remember that I live here all the time. I touched this photo up a little, using lightroom to bring out the colors, but honestly not much. Nature did all the work.

 

Hilton Village was built in the 1910s for a large influx of soldiers returning from WWI, many of whom got jobs at the Shipyard, not far away. Most if the houses, including mine, are more than a century old.

Here is a long exposure shot of the Shipyard from the neighborhood fishing pier which extends out into the James River:

EireShipyard

I like the way that the lights reflect on the water and create an eerie, otherworldly vibe. It reminds me of alien spaceships, maybe.

Actually, that fishing pier is a favorite of mine. It’s right next to the neighborhood playground, so I’ll frequently walk over with my son and set up a great shot as he plays, especially in the evening as the sun is going down. I could easily do a whole blog post about just that, but here’s my most recent one, just for a taste:

SunsetHiltonPier

 

I’ll often go on a quiet nighttime stroll once everyone is sleeping soundly to gather my thoughts and have some down time. Occasionally I remember the rich opportunity for nighttime photography, especially while experimenting with long exposure shots. Here’s a fun one:

StreetNight

It’s cliche but true: there is beauty all around, and it often doesn’t take much to find it, if you care to look.

Here’s a challenge: break out of your routine and seek out an opportunity to capture a beautiful moment on film. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate. A sunset view from your neighborhood park will do just fine. Make it something that’s relatively easy to access, but  you usually just can’t find the time. Do it today. Right now! Send your picture to jamessmithsonphotography@gmail.com. There’s no time limit on this. I want to do a regular “Beauty All Around” series and happily feature you as I go. Tell me a bit about the pictures you send. I love seeing people use photography to capture and celebrate the beautiful world all around us.

Cheers friends!

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