Thanks for visiting. The new Loudoun Landscapes blog can now be found here: Feel free to also visit the main Loudoun Landscapes website where you'll find more photography, stories and background information.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Updated Blog

I decided to continue blogging within the Loudoun Landscapes main website. This updated blog can be accessed here:

I began blogging my stories and sharing Virginia photographs using Blogger in 2006. Since then I posted more than 200 such stories. Due to better web options and improved technology, continuing the long running Pastoral blog within the main photo site made more sense. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Cow and Calf

This cow and newly born calf eyes this photographer wearily on a warm May day. On a nearby pasture, calves dotted the expansive pasture landscape, having only known life for a couple of days. I watched as Farmhand Skip chase them down and tagged their tiny ears.

Spring in Loudoun County, Virginia offers a bountiful display for photography. The winter-brown ridge begins to shimmer green, bird sounds fill the air and farms jump to life.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

AT hike to David Lesser Cabin

A couple of weeks ago (3/12/11) a friend and I hiked to one of the most remote Appalachian Trail cabins in Loudoun County, Virginia. The David Lesser Shelter, or Cabin, is located south of Route 9 and north Blackburn Cabin. It is remote because you can only access it by hiking several miles, unlike most of the other AT cabins in the area that feature roads. This hike was a terrific opportunity to photograph the Blue Ridge in sunny weather ahead of the spring bloom. The photo above looks east over Loudoun County with Hillsboro in the distance. This particular view is roughly half way to the cabin itself, which is a total of 3.5 miles in one direction.

The David Lesser shelter is shown in the photograph above. The three wall cabin is open to the east and features a full size deck. There is a covered picnic structure just out of view. Several camping areas are located just below the cabin. When we arrived on this chilly afternoon, the cabin was occupied and several folks had tents pitched. A serene setting to say the least.

This sign hangs outside of the cabin and provides general information about the site. Out of curiosity, I conducted online research into Mr. Lesser and found nothing about him. Can anyone share some insight here?

As early spring approaches, daffodils leaves poke through the ground in preparation of their more colorful counterparts. This photo was taken somewhere along the trail during the hike. Among streams that appeared from the ground, several plants of similar green hues also vied for sun. Next month, leaf buds and ground plants will transform this section of the trail to appear completely different.

Also found along the trail was this interesting fallen tree with some of it's rings completely missing. Somehow, the core rings remain while creating a curious piece of nature to observe. The fallen log was presumably cut by the kind folks who maintain the trail.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Northern Virginia Magazine Mention

Thanks to Northern Virginia Magazine for the October mention. They were kind enough to not only print a brief write up, but also feature one of my Loudoun photographs. This particular photograph was taken at Glenowen Farm located on the side of the Blue Ridge in Round Hill. Several of my photos have been taken on this farm including Barley Field and Field Swimming. Farmhand Skip granted me free reign to hike these rolling hills and snap photos as I please, a great honor. This farm is designated as a Virginia Century Farm. This is also the location where I recently heard a pack of Coyotes in the near distance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Library Bucket

Gravity and rain slowly unwind these wooden barrel planters located outside of the public library in Purcellville, Virgina. The oft overlooked objects in life can sometimes provide a meaningful break from an otherwise mundane walk into town. Perfect planters would do well in Ashburn. In our community, weather-worn is just part of the fabric. Simple photographs can communicate many things. Like the volumes inside of these stone walls,  lessons can be learned simply observing.

 Watch for the ultra large full moon tonight.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Bears Den Sunset

Bears Den hikers hostel, located in Bluemont, VA, offers terrific western views over Clarke County. A half mile south on Route 601, from Route 7, will bring you to the entrance of this must see location in Loudoun. Aside from the cabin itself, there are also a handful of campsites and a few small satellite cabins. However the real draw of this spot is the rocky outcrop just a short walk from the main hostel. When the timing is right, spectacular sunsets are bestowed upon visitors who find themselves perched on the sprawling rock formations that give Bears Den its name.

This photograph was taken only steps from the Appalachian Trail, which conveniently intersects the walking path to the rock outcropping in which I stood while snapping this photo.

While I've not seen actual bears here, I've spoken with those who claim to have seen them. Wide fractures in some of the formations would make for comfortable napping by bears and humans alike. With places such as this, capturing Loudoun County photography is rarely challenging. More information about Bears Den can be found here:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter creek in the park

The Suzanne R. Kane Nature Park in Purcellville, Virginia features a meandering stream bordered with young trees. The sounds of plentiful birds make this a tranquil place to explore within walking distance of downtown. The park is located between Hillsboro, Hirst and Hatcher roads.

Seven inches of new snow made this hike a bit challenging, but a worthwhile endeavor. It was a good way to pursue photography while taking in local nature.

While shooting another section of the creek, a hawk flew across my lens and onto a tree about 20 yards away. In an attempt to take photographic advantage of the opportunity, I thought of ways to encourage the hawk to fly again. I began whistling loudly in the most annoying way possible. The hawk became visually agitated after a couple of minutes, then finally flew away. The bird can be seen flying away in this photo. Was it worth five minutes of nutty whistling while standing in the woods alone? If nothing else, sharing the story was.

Loudoun photography

Friday, January 28, 2011

Urban Hike - Snowfall in Purcellville

This week, Loudoun received six to seven inches of snow. It was a fine opportunity to walk about Purcellville and capture town moments as the snow fell. Enjoy this short video of my experience.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fog and Fire

The Blue Ridge was under siege by heavy rolling fog during this colorful, early fall day. The tops of the younger trees appear to be on fire, enhanced by the thick atmosphere.

Much of the ridge in Loudoun features younger trees. Older legacy trees here are rare  due to fire and disease in recent decades. Tall forests of younger trees afford great views in these conditions, especially when doused with racing fog. The photo was taken in northwest Loudoun County.

Side note:
Thanks to the Washington Post for mentioning my latest show in Leesburg. Click here to read the mention.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Solo show opens at Loudoun County Government Center

My landscape photographs are now on display at the Loudoun County Government Center in Leesburg, Virginia, through the end of February. This show features twenty-two photographs representing some of Loudoun's most beautiful places. In addition to the framed pieces of various sizes, you will also find unique aluminum prints. The photographs are located in the lobby area, just outside of the Board of Supervisors meeting room.

This link points to the related press release issued by the Loudoun County Government:

I would like to thank Magnolia's at the Mill, located in Purcellville, for hosting my photographs in their fine restaurant through the end of 2010. It was a terrific showing opportunity.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fiery sunrise over Purcellville

The skies over Purcellville were "on fire" early Friday morning. After a week of frigid temperatures and stinging wind, a few inches of snow fell on Thursday. With the snow came an absence of the driving wind, making twenty degree temperatures seem quite balmy, sort of. 

Visual warmth on this stunning morning momentarily put aside a week of frigidity. While lasting only a few moments, these fiery skies warmed our eyes and hearts.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Loudoun Fall Photos - October 2010

Peak leaf changing season in Loudoun County occurred this year at the end of October, slightly later than in recent years. The leaf colors were fairly brilliant in 2010. While the predominate colors favored pale yellows and rusty oranges, the noticeable lack of red hues speaks to our dry summer. This newish vineyard helps to create a painterly setting at he base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Looking northwest in Round Hill, trees help frame a peaceful stretch of colorful turning leaves. The classic emerald greens, for which Loudoun is known, are under siege by the changing foliage. The hand stacked stone wall lazily defines a border unseen by most.

This colorful landscape is located along side Sleeter Lake in Round Hill. Chilly afternoon breezes makes dance the tall uncut hay. The mid-ground striping of trees offers a full range of color from the darkest green to fire red. In the distance, the sun lapped Blue Ridge Mountains seem alive as passing cloud shadows battle for visual dominance.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall sun spills across the ridge

I took this photo tonight as the chilly wind began picking up. Standing atop a hill north of Round Hill, I could see clear to the ridge looking west. Some of you may recognize this location from other photos I've taken.You should click to see it larger.

This photo almost didn't happen. I arrived with one weak camera battery. It ran out after two photos. It was not a happy moment as I was faced with driving home. Luckily I had a device charger in the car, which saved the day. A few minutes later I climbed back up (wearing slippers, another story) and took this shot. I call it Honey Locus Fall.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunset Hills Vineyard Tour

A good friend and I recently went on a tour of Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville. Located a few miles north on 287, the facility offers wonderful views of Loudoun looking west, the sunsets are spectacular.

The brief tour began in the spacious barn building, used mainly for tastings. After Mark, our Winemaker, introduced the process of making wine, we were led to the basement. Our group of roughly 30 wine enthusiasts filled the main fermenting room as premature wine was served from a large stainless tank. The sugar content is tested on a regular schedule to determine the how long the fermenting process should continue.

With glass in hand, I watch the Sunset Hills crew painstakingly sort berries from stems and leaves. The high tech playground slide (green) carries the sorted grapes into the stainless bin below. The vineyard sorts literally tons of grapes with each harvest type. Some strains require no sorting, as seeds and stems are included in the process (varies by wine type).

A truly wonderful day to be visiting the vineyard. I'm partial to the wine they make, and am rather fond of it. This is not an ad, but I do suggest you go.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Loudoun Bug Invasion

Loudoun County is under siege once again. The tiny odd-shaped, likely smelly, stink bugs are ravaging us once again. Clinging to screens and doors, they crawl about in large numbers, seemingly without care.  My kids are freaked out, but I don't mind them a bit. I don't crush them, they eat smaller bugs and they don't bite.

Here is one such fella...
Cute little stinkbug :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Are you ready?

Are you ready for winter once again? It's coming. I'm TallNDarkInVA, you found me. My email is here on this site, contact me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Loudoun County Fair 2010

The Loudoun County Fair never disappoints. Visitors can always count on seeing massive cattle, great entertainment and fair rides while enjoying a  wonderful community spirit. Many newer residents may not realize that just beyond the asphalt roads that connects us to places of shopping, farms still exist in Loudoun. Farming families can be seen at the fair proudly displaying livestock and prized vegetables. There is nothing like seeing a child farmer grooming their baby goats. Pride is displayed in the form of smiles and hand drawn posters donning cute animal names, many with ribbons.

Miss Loudoun County Fair 2010 waits for the smash up derby to begin. It seems that a throne would be appropriate here. She is required to stand with the masses and endure the heat. Royalty would seem to be a thing of the past .

In the end, isn't this what the fair is all about; fried batter and confection sugar? Sure, the kids love the rides, ribbon recipients brim with pride and audiences cheer smoking wrecks that were previously autos. But we all love fair food. Where else can you get a huge order of fries that come in a big gulp cup?

This year I was honored in being asked to help judge the fair photo contest. Myself and two others (NOVA instructors) wend our way through hundreds of photographs in dozens of categories. This was harder work than I expected, but quite rewarding. It took nearly three hours to review the incredible array of submitted photos. I was most impressed with the creative work submitted by the youth of our county, and look forward to the opportunity to judge again next year. See you in 2011!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Pie Post - Round Hill Town Festival

The 2010 Round Hill Town Festival was filled with friendly neighbors. We had record attendance this year.

Preparation for the pie eating contest ensues. Hungry hopefuls linger on the sidelines just ahead of the competition frenzy.

Hmmmmm...dunno about this.

The peak of pie ingestion. The situation looks precarious here.

Note the colorful technical approaches. Some come out swinging with mouth agape, others slide in from the side.  

The gentleman on the ground caused the creation of a new pie eating rule this year; Jumping over the table is no longer allowed, serious stuff folks. His pie slid off the table and he quickly followed. Without missing a beat, the eater proceeded to finish the pie.

Serious dedication can be seen in the eyes of competitors. Another successful year of pie eating at the Round Hill Town Fest.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Photos featured in Loudoun County Library publication

The recently published Loudoun County Library Pages booklet features a couple of my photographs. The publication highlights library events scheduled for throughout Loudoun County. The image above was captured from the publication. To get your own, see the PDF document provided by the county here:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sherando Lake and Blue Ridge Parkway

A camping trip last weekend afforded terrific views along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Sherando Lake campground is a nice quiet place to camp and features two lakes. The smaller, below, was a few hundred feet from our site. The photo was taken with a polarizing filter.