Camera Club Trip to WV

Pilgrim leaves crowd the air with their falling every October. The journey is always the same. — Linda Pastan in Carnival Evening

The Baltimore Camera Club recently arranged a member trip to West Virginia.  In the past they have gone more to the north, closer to Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods and Seneca Rocks.  Happily this time they went to Pocahontas County, which is my favorite area of WV.

Lodging was arranged at the Inn at Mountain Quest in Frost, WV, about 18 miles from Marlinton, which is the main town in the area.  The rooms were a surprise.  I was expecting rather old style rooms or rooms you might find at a B&B.  The rooms were very nice, very comfortable, and rather delightfully eclectic in design, reflecting a space theme, an African savannah, and an extremely modern black and white design (my room) among others I didn’t see.

 Room@MountainQuestRaj agreed to share the ride with me, and we stuck together for the whole trip.  We went directly to Beartown State Park, which was the furthest from the Inn of the places I wanted to see, so that on the following days, travel would be at least a little shorter.

Rocks at Beartown State Park.Beartown Park Boardwalk

Beartown was all about rocks and ferns from a boardwalk.  In the right light, it could be pretty neat, but the light wasn’t really helpful.

The next morning, after a really fine breakfast, some spiderweb

Spider web

 and foggy tree photos, we headed for the Falls at Hills Creek.  Before we even hit the falls, a pond right across the road had some good fall reflections.  At the Falls, the lower falls has the largest drop at 63 feet, with a very good viewing platform.  So I went right down to the bottom on a boardwalk followed by a metal stairwell and more boardwalk, planning to be able to stop at the others on the way back to catch my breath.

Lower falls

The walk is kind of steep, especially carrying a tripod and backpack, but you just need to take your time and rest when need to and it isn’t too bad.

Cascade at Middle Falls.

I had a chance to rest at Middle Falls to take some more shots.  By this time, the sky seemed to be clearing even more, so waiting for the clouds to hide the sun was getting a little tedious, but I still like this middle falls shot with partial sun on the rocks.

After the Falls we hit the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk, which I think is better in the spring.  I did shoot some dried ferns and a cecropia moth caterpillar, but nothing really exciting.  To end the day we drove up the Highland Scenic Highway.  In some areas, the colors were doing fairly well, but I just couldn’t find a particular tree or color mass that excited me.

On Sunday morning we stopped at a place Raj had seen on Saturday, with a pond reflecting an old weathered barn.  The mist cooperated, and we stayed there a while, before moving on to Watoga State Park.  Some nice fall reflections in the lake, but nothing much else, so we started home.

Rooms and food at the Inn were excellent, but the Inn was almost 20 miles east of Marlinton, and most of the areas I preferred were west of Marlinton, so there was a lot of traveling for Raj and me.  Others went to the Cass Railroad, the radio telescope at Green Bank, and the windmill farm, all to the north.  Bottom line:  good trip!

An-My Le in conversation with BMA curataor Ann Shafer

It’s the subtleties eventually that become essential. — Jon Cone

Just returned from an artist talk at MICA between An-My Le (pronounced ann-mee lay) and BMA associate curator Ann Shafer.  Le uses a 4 x 5 view “camera to investigate multi-layered ideas about war and the military…with quiet nuance.”  She won the MacArthur Foundation “genus grant” in 2012 and numerous other awards.  The exhibition of about 20 images is currently in the “Front Room” at the BMA (Ms. Shafer noted that although there is construction around the museum, it is open).

The images are all non-combat images, so different from what might be expected from war and military images.  As Ms. Shafer pointed out, the vast majority of military personnel and operations are not directly involved in combat.

There were images from numerous venues including Vietnam, war reenactments, military bases and war ships.  Many of the images shown can be found at An-My Le Small Wars, although not all of the images at this site were hers.

I liked her portraits best. They seemed to convey a “sense” of the subjects. They let me feel like I could connect with the subjects if I ever met them.

I found some of the other images to be too “quietly nuanced” for my untrained eye, although several other images were outstanding. One that Ms. Shafer noted was her favorite showed a wooden lounge chair adjacent to a table with machine gun on what appeared to be the back end of boat looking out to sea.  The combination of the mundane furniture and the machine gun in the unlikely setting was quite striking.  An image of a helicopter at the horizon, coming toward the photographer was also eye-catching and noteworthy for having been taken with a view camera.  I definitely plan to visit the BMA for a closer viewing of Ms. Le’s images.

Ann Shafer will be at the Baltimore Camera club on Thursday, Oct. 17 to talk about the exhibition.  She is very knowledgeable about both Ms. Le. and the substance and content of the photographs. I believe that anyone who attends will have an opportunity to get a better understanding of Ms. Le’s work and intent.