Sunset on Sturgeon Creek
Snapped this quick shot with my iPhone 4s while visiting my girlfriend’s parents recently. They have a beautiful waterfront home on Sturgeon Creek, and the sun was just setting when we arrived for dinner.
I’ve been absent from my blog for several months, but hope to return to regular postings. I’ve missed this great community and all you have to offer.
Here’s a shot I captured with my iPhone of fireworks at the end of Heritage Day in Deltaville, Virginia last weekend. Most folks gather in the local cemetery next to the ball park to watch the display, following the Deltaville Tides baseball game. The fireworks, sponsored by the Deltaville Community Association, are launched behind the town fire department. My family and I have made this a tradition for the past few years, and it was a great way to kick off our vacation this year.
Specs: iPhone 4s
© R C Norman Photography, June 2012
“A Good Day’s Catch” is the name of a John Barber painting that hangs in my office. It came from the old A.H. Robins Company that was headquartered in Richmond (and is now part of the long Pfizer lineage). One of Richmond’s most notable philanthropists and patron of the Arts, E. Claiborne Robins accumulated numerous prints and paintings of Virginia artists like Barber to display for the enjoyment of his employees and visitors at the home office — still a familiar landmark along I-95 just North of Richmond. Today, however, the building sits empty and mothballed. With no signage atop the iconic executive tower and no cars in the crumbling, grass-patched parking lot, the property is barely a shadow of its former days as a giant in the pharma industry. Fortunately, much of the art that adorned its walls can still be found across the Interstate at the company’s old R&D facility that was renovated and today serves as the home for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare’s Global R&D. The Barber painting on my office wall, depicting a deadrise fishing boat unloading its catch at the dock, reminds me of scenes like this one pictured here of the Miss Diane returning from a fishing charter to her dock on Broad Creek. On lazy weekends at the river, I sit on my boat and watch these charters returning in the late afternoon and wonder if the tired fishermen had “a good day’s catch”.
Specs: Nikon D7000, 195 mm, F/5, 1/1000, ISO 100
© R C Norman Photography, June 2012
Old boat, chipped paint, barnacle encrusted underside. How can that be appealing? But it is….to me. When I paddled my kayak up for a closer look at the Shady Lady, my eye was drawn to her aft port side — telling me her story of age and neglect. I could have photographed her bow or pilot house or even her stern, which were not as revealing of her long days against sun, wind and salt water. But not this time. No. She deserved better. Her story was in her weathering. Her cracks and decay were a work of art. Her lines and shadows were pleasing in their simplicity. She was a grand old gal who was still hard at work earning an honest day’s pay. I snapped this shot, paid my respects, and paddled on. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/8, 1/400, ISO 80.
Recently, when Jenny and I were kayaking on Broad Creek, I photographed many of the old deadrise work boats. The Miss Carolyn is a beauty, and I liked the way she was sitting here with the dark sky and rusted tin roof of the boat shed adding some tonal variation to this sepia image. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/4.9, 1/500, ISO 80
The Dog and Oyster: A great place for storytelling and wine
I was recently stopped in a Deltaville coffee shop (Café by the Bay) and asked about The Dog and Oyster logo on my new, white, unstained ball cap. “Is that a new restaurant?”, the curious woman asked. “No, it’s a winery,” I said. I went on to explain how the former White Fences Winery just across the river in Irvington was recently sold and renamed, and we had just visited for a tasting the day before. My ball cap was an impulse buy when I was paying for two bottles to take home – a Chardonnay and a Merlot. Jenny and I had such a great time there that I wanted a memento of the occasion. I even gave the owner, Dudley Patterson, my old ball cap promoting a Richmond law firm where one of his attorney friends apparently worked – and I refused the quarter he was willing to pay!
So, why the name? According to Dudley, the first half of the name honors the half dozen or so rescue dogs that were offered a good home at the vineyard along with a job – protect the grapes! Deer can wreak havoc on crops, including grape vines. Larger vineyards just factor those losses into the expense of wine making. Smaller vineyards, like this one with only six acres of vines, can’t afford crops damaged by deer and other pesky animals. The dogs, mostly beagles and hounds, prevent that from happening. The second half of the name honors the bivalve mollusk considered to be one of the tastiest delicacies of the Chesapeake Bay and perhaps the greatest asset of the Northern Neck region, where The Dog and Oyster Vineyard is located.
Probably the most notable feature of this vineyard are the two 40-foot cork screws that flank the entrance. Whether they are the largest in the world is still unconfirmed, but I would love to see the bottle these could open!
The tasting room is small, but charming – a white frame building with a big screened porch that sits in the middle of the vineyard. When we arrived, Dudley was just starting a rotation with a few other couples sitting at picnic tables on the porch. He called to us through the screen to come and join them. In between tastings, he told stories. I’ve already shared the one about the dogs. He shared another story about how the region is very similar to Bordeaux, with sandy, rocky soil and a high water table that needed an underground drainage system before the vines could be planted. The tasting was friendly and relaxing, and the wines were very good.
The Dog and Oyster has partnered with Ingleside, one of Virginia’s largest wineries and likely the best known on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. Four of the six wines offered in the tasting were Ingleside labels – 2010 Pinot Grigio, 2008 Sangiovese, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 2007 Petit Verdot (my favorite). I like the bold wines, and this one was intense with a deep garnet red color and elegant aromas of vanilla and oak. The other two wines carried The Dog and Oyster label – a Chardonnay that was light and crisp, and a Merlot made in the European tradition with flavors of black cherry, currant and tobacco. We took home both of these.
Dudley and his wife Peggy also own the Hope and Glory Inn just up the road from the vineyard. This highly-acclaimed boutique hotel of six rooms and 10 cottages is touted as one of the best small inns in America and continues to score high marks from Fodor’s and Frommer’s Travel Guides and numerous other publications. Jenny and I have added the Hope and Glory Inn to our list of places to visit.
Dudley says future plans for The Dog and Oyster include food stands serving up – you guessed it – oysters and gourmet hot dogs, complete with wine pairings. So, if you’re in the region and want to visit a dog-friendly, Chesapeake Bay vineyard with tasty wines and good stories in a relaxing setting, check out The Dog and Oyster in Irvington, Virginia. We’ll certainly be back soon.
– Rob Norman
A Ride to the Dock
I remember when my son was small enough to ride on my shoulders. At 14, those days are long gone. I think seeing this father and son taking a stroll on the dock at Locklies Marina last weekend was a nostalgic moment for me. Jenny and I were enjoying a late lunch of roasted oysters and crab cakes, sitting at the so-called “slanted table” under a shade tree at Merrior, a casual outside restaurant with great views of Locklies Creek and the Rappahannock River. I was admiring the Charlotte D deadrise boat (in the background of this photo) that had just returned from a fishing charter and the skipper was washing her down, when this father and son crossed my view. I put down my beer, grabbed my Nikon and snapped off three shots. The first one shown here captured the moment. Maybe this little boy, still in diapers, will grow to appreciate old boats and backwater marinas as much as I do. Just maybe. June 9, 2012.
Specs: Nikon D7000, 105 mm, F/5.6, 1/800, ISO 200
Small Wooden Boat
Here’s another shot from my kayak adventures with Jenny on Broad Creek last weekend. This small wooden boat, a miniature deadrise, made the perfect subject for this somewhat symmetrical shot comprised of wood and water. While the boat is center frame, the boathouse door provided the imbalance to make this visually interesting. I’m a huge fan of the old, wooden deadrise boats, and this shiny little replica offered a stark contrast to the usual work boats I normally photograph. I enjoy shooting from my kayak, but am limited to my Canon PowerShot since I’m not inclined to take my Nikon DSLR in a one-man vessel that can easily capsize. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/9, 1/320, ISO 80.
Evening Sky Ablaze
One of my favorite things to do is sit on the bridge of my boat at dock on Broad Creek in the evening when the wind and the water calm and the sun rests on the horizon before vanishing into the night. This is the time I call “sweet light”. I captured this photo this past Saturday evening while Jenny and I enjoyed a glass of wine after a day of visiting consignment shops and wineries. June 9, 2012.
Specs: Nikon D7000, 80 mm, F/11, 1/500, ISO 100
I normally don’t photograph food, but these scones sitting on a baker’s tray at a recent Farmer’s Market caught my eye. For me, they were as interesting to look at as I’m sure they were Delicious to eat. Maybe next time, I’ll put away the camera and pull out my wallet. May 26, 2012.
Specs: Nikon D7000, 105 mm, F/5.6, 1/400, ISO 400
Last year, Jenny and I spent a weekend at Prospect Hill Plantation B&B in Louisa, VA, about halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville. The manor house dates to the early 18th century and is surrounded by stately Oaks and rolling pastures, reminders of a once sprawling plantation. Strolling the grounds in the early evening before dinner, I came upon this garden cherub shushing a frog and felt I had intruded upon their private conversation. I politely snapped this photo and then moved on, careful not to disturb them again.
April 3, 2011.
Specs: Nikon D50, 165 mm, F/5.6, 1/500
Recently while kayaking on Broad Creek, I spotted an old salt-treated docking post that had a section of splintering just above the water line. I paddled over and pulled out my Canon PowerShot and captured this pic. Often times, even the most mundane objects can be a source of beauty when you notice the interplay of light and shadow, lines and texture. All you have to do is look…and see.
May 26, 2012, Deltaville, Virginia.
Specs: Canon PowerShot SD 1200, 110 mm, F/4.9, 1/800, ISO 80
The Mattie Joan deadrise workboat asleep at her berth on Broad Creek. I love the way the early morning light casts a shadowy blue tint on her forward port freeboard (left bow) and sparkles gold across the ripples of a gentle creek. I awoke with the sun on Memorial Day weekend to capture this shot from the opposite bank.
May 28, 2012. Deltaville, Virginia
Specs: Nikon D7000, 300 mm, F/5.6, 1/500, ISO 320
How would you like to get behind the wheel of this MG sports car? The rich, natural wood dashboard caught my eye when strolling around the Farmer’s Market in Deltaville last weekend. The car was in pristine condition and could be yours for only $18,500. I’ve already had my mid-life crisis!
May 26, 2012
Specs: Nikon D7000, 62 mm, F/8, 1/1000, ISO 640
This empty dock silhouetted against the soft blue water of Broad Creek at dusk conveys the feeling of a quiet evening with the boats tucked away in their covered slips across the creek. May 29, 2012.
Camera: Nikon D7000, Focal length: 300 mm, Aperture: F/9, Shutter: 1/30, ISO: 800.
A Golden Moment
Sitting on the bridge of my old motor yacht, I have the perfect vantage point to observe life on Broad Creek, a bustling waterway of marinas, boatyards and river homes in Deltaville, Virginia. The creek, which spills into the mouth of the Rappahannock River at its confluence with the Chesapeake Bay, was especially active this past Memorial Day weekend as families flocked to the water. This shot captured a father and daughter kayaking with the family dog, the water-loving Golden Retriever. The sun’s sparkle on the kayaks and water droplets off the paddles added to this “Golden Moment”.
May 29, 2012. Camera: Nikon D7000, Focal Length: 270 mm, Aperture: F/11, Shutter: 1/8000, ISO: 6400
Delfosse Wine Bottles
On one of our many “wine weekend get-a ways”, Jenny and I visited Delfosse Vineyards in the Hickory Creek Valley on the Monticello Wine Trail. One of the more interesting photos made on that trip was this one that Jenny took with my Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot. She saw a case of empty, dusty wine bottles sitting in the tasting room and snapped this shot. Faber, Virginia. October 30, 2011.
Canon 37 mm, F/2.8, 1/10, ISO 400
Mattie Joan Home
Here’s an interesting and somewhat eerie perspective of the Mattie Joan work boat berthed at her home dock on Broad Creek. This was in my view directly across the creek from where my boat is docked. Early morning light reflecting off the boat and dock house, which were surrounded by woods, enabled me to exaggerate the shadows and isolate the subject. Deltaville, Virginia. May 28, 2011.
Nikon 98 mm, F/5.6, 1/50, ISO 800
Sailboats at Dusk
Sailboats at Deltaville Yachting Center rest on the glass-like water as the last vestige of sunlight fades into the blue night.
Deltaville, Virginia. June 25, 2011.
Nikon 18 mm, F/3.5, 1/6, ISO 500
An umbrella comes in handy on a breezy day for this Broad Creek kayaker. Because I did not want to crop out the boats at the top, since they offer some perspective, I used a color focal zoom technique against a B&W waterscape to help the subject stand out.
Deltaville, Virginia. August 14, 2011
Nikon 200 mm, F/6.3, 1/640, ISO 200
A slow shutter speed and unusual white balance created this surreal shot of a loan kayaker on Broad Creek at dusk.
Deltaville, Virginia. June 20, 2011
Nikon 150 mm, F/5, 1/4, ISO 400
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Hickory Creek Valley south of Charlottesville, Virginia, Delfosse Winery seems like an Italian villa winery with its terraced vineyards and serene lake setting. Their premium wines are as spectacular as their mountain views. I took this shot last autumn from the porch of their hilltop cabin, which is available for weekend getaways.
Faber, Virginia, October 30, 2011
Nikon 30 mm, F/11, 1/160, ISO 100
Sunrise Over Broad Creek
It was quiet across the creek at Norview Marina while I was waiting for the sun to break the horizon. When it did, a slight breeze rippled the golden surface that was like glass earlier when the sky was a washed out pink.
Broad Creek, Deltaville, Virginia. May 28, 2011
Nikon 40 mm, F/9, 1/320, ISO 100
I admire those who make a living on the water, like this lone waterman who awoke before dawn to prepare for his day’s work harvesting crabs on the Rappahannock River. I snapped this shot just after he left his small dock navigating out Broad Creek, hopeful for a good day’s catch. Deltaville, Virginia. May 28, 2011
Nikon 105 mm, F/6.3, 1/640, ISO 200