outdoors

The Black Twig Pickers

Way back in 2012, December to be exact, we photographed The Black Twig Pickers for their latest album release, Rough Carpenters, on Thrill Jockey Records. We'd been trying to get together for this shoot for a while, and finally, after playing a local show on a freezing Saturday night, we dragged them outside with no coats on. They were up for anything--which was pretty amazing since they had just played for several hours and it was after midnight--and they kept warm by continuing to showcase their energetic talents out on the sidewalk. Fully expecting our group (of under-dressed musicians, photographer on a stool, guy holding a 5-ft octa box and friend holding a tree branch out of the way) to be gawked or yelled at, passers-by and drunk college students instead stopped to listen with genuine appreciation of their music, nodding, clapping and dancing along. The whole night was a ton of fun, even though the shoot itself was quite a whirlwind.

If you haven't heard The Black Twig Pickers, definitely check them out. They serve up a boisterous and energetic collection of old-time music that will get you up and moving and listening to their albums over and over again.

Here are some others we took that evening--including a couple taken during their show and in the beer shop next door.

Ian the bagpiper

While on assignment for the Roanoke Times to cover the Radford Highlanders Festival on Saturday, David and I thought we'd take a strobe along and grab some portraits of folks donning their Scottish garb and perhaps of some of the athletes participating in the Scottish games. We ran into several members of various pipe and drum groups who were happy to pose with their instruments and even play some for us, including this young lad, Ian. Read the story that ran in Sunday's edition of the Roanoke Times and see some more of the photos there too.

Winter's dormancy and camera phones

We went to Brown Farm (a.k.a. Heritage Park) not too long ago, an open-space in town that provides nice walking paths, trails, and a place for Eastwood to run around and pee on all the things. Going out on short trips like this, I tend to forget or leave my camera at home and usually end up regretting it. Thank goodness for the continuing advancement of camera phones. Perhaps I shouldn't still be amazed...I mean, new astounding technology has just become the norm these days. But the camera on my phone has come to mostly replace our little Canon point-n-shoot, and is a fine fill-in for times just like these, when I notice the lovely things around me while on an afternoon walk. It's been an unusually warm winter for the most part here in the southwestern part of Virginia, but the landscape is still stark and quiet as it always is this time of the year, allowing us to really appreciate the contours of the land.

Kappas and the tree

Over two years ago, life-long Blacksburg resident Chris Kappas asked if I could take some photos of him and the big Sycamore tree that resided just outside his office in downtown Blacksburg. It had just been announced that the tree would be cut down come summer. The tree had been sickly for sometime, and a lot of residents had noticed that each year it was a little less robust, standing a little less strong, and never leafing out as much as the year before. Nearly 140 years old, it had become a much loved icon and institution in Blacksburg, and Chris, a town institution himself, remembers climbing its trunk and branches when it was still small enough to do so. For many of us that have grown up in this town, the Sycamore was a constant figure, always providing a hillside of shade during our humid mountain summers and adding a burst of brilliant yellow in the fall. In most of these photos, Chris stood posed, looking straight into the camera, but I was able to sneak a frame or two of him being more reflective.