On Place: My Outer Banks

Photography is a game of vision, and vision is unique to each photographer. How each of us views a place is some complex derivation of personal experiences, learned knowledge, and personal attributes—all of which cannot be duplicated, only imitated.  It's my belief...

Thoughts – More Than Pretty Pictures by Ron Coscorrosa

This is a response and extension of thoughts to a blogpost written by Ron Coscorrosa titled, More Than Pretty Pictures, posted July 5, 2017. Original blog post:  http://www.naturephotoguides.com/blog/more-than-pretty-pictures Photographer Ron Coscorrosa details in his...

June 2017

MONTH IN REVIEW June 2017 Mark VanDyke, Photographer 2 July 2017 June.  The pinnacle month of spring bloom atop the high peaks of the Southern Appalachian mountains.  June is a month of color:  magenta pinks, flaming oranges, buttercup yellows, ruby reds.  The...

March/April/May 2017

MONTH IN REVIEW March / April / May 2017 Mark VanDyke, Photographer 23 June 2017 When I started monthly reviews late last year I honestly thought I could fit in a post each month without too much pain.  Best laid plans, right?!  Spring has quickly become my busiest...

Photo Essay: Pinkshell & Flame Azalea 2016

PHOTO ESSAY:  Pinkshell & Flame Azalea 2016 2 APRIL 2017 Our State Magazine Assignment North Carolina In March 2016, while I was photographing the annual spring bloom in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, Our State Magazine--a North Carolina periodical--reached out...

Photo Essay: Oconee Bell Wildflowers 2017

PHOTO ESSAY:  Oconee Bells 2017 14 MARCH 2017 Wildflowers Upstate South Carolina Appalachian Mountains I lived in the Upstate of South Carolina for nearly ten years while I pursued various degrees at Clemson University. Neighboring Oconee County was where I went to...

February 2017

MONTH IN REVIEW February 2017 Mark VanDyke, Photographer 24 February 2017 February was full of surprises, the largest being the arrival of spring!  The spring season came crashing onto the scene with the gusto of Donald Trump--although it's arrival was decidedly more...

Photo Essay: Virginia Bluebell Wildflowers

PHOTO ESSAY:  Virginia Bluebell Wildflowers 20 February 2017 Virginia Bluebells Bull Run Regional Park Riverbend Regional Park Each year, a small gap in my travel schedule allows a return to my hometown of Northern Virginia to witness and photograph the Virginia...

Photo Essay: Spring in the Smokies 2016

PHOTO ESSAY:  Spring in the Smokies 2016 15 February 2017 Spring Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina / Tennessee Each year, as spring rounds out towards mid-April I make a pilgrimage to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I'm never alone; the who's who of outdoor...

January 2017

MONTH IN REVIEW January 2017 Mark VanDyke, Photographer 28 January 2017 January.  A month of gray skies and gusting winds here in the mid-Atlantic.  Forests stand dormant, leaves long since shed.  The ground frosts and heaves.  Critters are sparse.  Watercourses are...

16 Experiences for 2016

YEAR IN REVIEW 16 Memories for the Year 2016 Mark VanDyke, Photographer 7 December 2016 This year more than any before I began to understand that it's not about the image for me personally.  I stopped obsessing about getting the image or wondering about how I'm going...

From the Field: October in Western North Carolina

FROM THE FIELD October in Western North Carolina 2016 Mark VanDyke, Photographer 1 December 2016 It's always difficult to sum up an entire season in one post, especially when time has passed (is it really December?).  That is, however, what I'm going to attempt here,...

Labor Day Weekend 2016: Outer Banks, North Carolina

Hermine. That was the monster that lingered on the forecast for Labor Day weekend.  Being an outdoor photographer, of course I was heading towards the storm instead of away.  Only this time it wasn’t necessarily by plan.  My mother and I booked a weekend of...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day Seven, Farewells, and Thoughts

Day seven.  Our last full day at Glacier National Park.  We wanted to get absolutely everything out of it, so, we were up by one in the morning and at the trailhead by two-thirty in the morning.  I've always been very comfortable outside in the wee hours of...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day Six

The morning of day six opened with great promise. The night before we had all sat around the table at the rental home and discussed various plans in terms of where to go and what to see.  Our destination was concrete.  We were going to split into a couple smaller...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day Five

Day five opened with the drumming of rain against the outside of the rental home. Several half-awake and questioning faces emerged from various rooms into the main living space where I was sleeping on the sofa.  An efficient but effective, “go back to sleep” from our...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day Four

Day four. Time to get back up on the horse.  I logged some quality shut-eye on a surface that wasn’t rolling at seventy-miles an hour (pretty sure I didn’t move from the time I laid it down to the moment my alarm woke me!).  I was excited to get myself back in the...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day Three

Day three began with a twist. Lots of them actually.  As we pulled out of Yellowstone National Park following sunset the road became narrow and mountainous, ascending and descending what must have been some pretty dramatic terrain (we couldn’t see much on account of...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day Two

The heavy lifting of east-to-west travel behind us, day two departed South Dakota during the dark hours of evening. It was clear, however, that we were not the only group descending upon the roads:  motor homes, pickup trucks and motorcycles were commonplace along...

Timescapes Meet-Up August 2016: Day One

I recently returned from a photography adventure with the guys over at Timescapes (Bernard Chen & David Nguyen).  The ultimate destination for this meet-up was Glacier National Park in Montana (a personal dream destination for me).  The particulars read something...

M2C Spring in the Smokies Photography Workshop

Good Afternoon guys! I'm sitting at my campsite in the Great Smoky Mountains reflecting on the photography workshop that we just wrapped up this weekend.  Gone are the biting winds and frigid temperatures of the higher elevations at o'dark thirty.  The sun is hot...

Washington D.C. Walkabout January 2016

I finally broke free from the desk and wondered around the Potomac River Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. this past Sunday morning.  The area recently experienced a blizzard that dropped over 30" of snow, followed shortly thereafter by a rather pleasant warming trend. ...

EL Licenses & the Potential For Erosion of Copyright

If you're like me, the concept of earning monthly royalties off of your photography is extremely appealing.  Before I began photography as a full-time career endeavor, I decided to test my images in this very capacity, uploading to a number of microstock agencies. ...

Why I Quit Microstock

Recent Conflict: In January 2016 I found my photograph being sold by a major, online print-on-demand service.  In fact, it was a best seller!  Yay!  Long story short, several legal inquiries later and the originating contract was tracked back to one of my microstock...

From the Field: Western North Carolina Autumn 2015

Deflated.  That's how I feel about my autumn season if I'm being totally honest.  Worn out.  Tired.  It was a massive effort this go-round.  More miles--both automobile and on foot--than ever before.  Perhaps the hardest part is the knowledge that I put forth so much...

From the Field: Cape Cod National Seashore September 2015

Disoriented. That’s the feeling I had when I arrived on the Cape this past September for the first time. I had the opportunity to travel north to Cape Cod National Seashore with my sister (visiting from Alaska) who was attending a conference in Brewster, Mass. ...

From the Field: August 2015 North Carolina Outer Banks (OBX)

By the time August rolled around I was pretty down.  It's not unusual for the summer months to be a bit of a downer for me from a photography standpoint as I try to hunker down and save money and energy for the coming autumn blitz.  However, this was year two as a...

From the Field: McKee Beshers WMA Maryland 2015

Each year my offseason gets shorter and that's a good thing.  There's various reasons:  I'm getting better at spreading my travel expenditures over a wider period of time during the shooting calendar; I'm learning new areas and new opportunities during months that...

Jane Bald Roan Mountain Highlands Appalachian Trail Sunset

My first career job out of college was with a healthcare general contractor building hospitals around the southeast.  I rotated around a few projects over the course of several weeks during the training period but my first long-term placement was in Spruce Pine, North...

Bright Lights: Grassy Ridge Roan Mountain Highlands 2015

June was about flies.  Yep, flies.  I always carry a small journal with me on my longer photography trips and I remember jotting down "flies" several times in the margins--deep stuff, huh?!  I'm assuming that the flies hatch in June in the highlands and for whatever...

Familiar Grounds: Grassy Ridge Roan Mountain Highlands

I have a mental trick that I employ each time I’m out in the field:  it’s always the best that I’ve ever seen.  Yep, you read that correct.  When I head out of town for extended trips to see annual blooms or other familiar areas I always tell myself that this is the...

From the Field: Roan Highlands Gray’s Lily 2015

My feet are soaking wet despite waterproof boots.  The grasses I travel through are far taller than the mid-height of my boots, allowing moisture to wick down through my socks and onto my feet.  It’s just after sunrise on the temperate balds of the Roan Highlands and...

From the Field: Thompson Wildlife Management Area 2015

Thompson Wildlife Management Area is an acreage of property (4,000+) owned and operated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Fauquier County, Virginia.  Located about one hour west of the Northern Virginia suburbs outside of Washington D.C.., the...

From the Field: Virginia Bluebells 2015

Each spring around mid-April I rattle off several hundred frames that I never show anyone.  Frames of Virginia Bluebells.  There's really nothing in my landscape calendar each year that wrecks my confidence as a photographer more thoroughly than Virginia Bluebells,...

A Pink Unicorn: The Eastern Redbud Displays Spring Exuberance

Friends and family know that I've been looking for an Eastern Redbud photograph for several years now:  it's been a not so elusive and somewhat mocking pink Unicorn!  Redbuds dot the early Spring landscape with a blast of magenta and pink color and are fairly abundant...

Imperfect: Folly Beach Blue Hour Moonrise

Perfection.  This image really got me thinking about my need to strive for technical perfection in each shot, and why sometimes, perfection is such an utter waste of time.  Content and idea holds the power behind any shot; technical execution, however, is where we all...

Am I a Hack? Bigtimers and My Response

This post is the development of some ideas/responses I had after reading a blogpost by talented photographer and writer, Jesse Estes, called "Bigtimers": http://www.jesse-estes.com/bigtimers/. I just re-read a blogpost by Photographer Jesse Estes about “bigtimers.”  I...

From the Field: Washington D.C. Cherry Blossoms 2015

Each year I return to my hometown around the time that the sakura Japanese Cherry Blossom trees bloom around the Potomac River Tidal Basin within West Potomac Park in the nation's capital, Washington D.C.  It's a gigantic tourist draw:  folks from all over come to...

Reflections: Spring in Lowcountry Charleston, South Carolina

Reflections, like mirrors, are said to display the true self.  In fact, some older cultures have believed that mirrors literally reflect not just an image of oneself, but the very soul.  I wonder now looking back at this photograph if that sentiment would also apply...

Enter Mather: Potomac River Mather Gorge Great Falls National Park

I used to chuckle at all the articles I came across about the x number of ways to overcome loss of inspiration and/or creativity.  How could someone lose the drive to do something they love?  I thought it largely impossible.  But, then again, I had experienced some...

Coming Home: Lake Anne Townhomes, Reston, Virginia

After a rather exhausting run this past season up and down the east coast chasing autumn colors, this photograph basically fell into my lap.  I rolled out of bed, drove five miles or so through some of Northern Virginia's famous morning traffic, walked about...

BOOK REVIEW: Stand Up That Mountain

Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness along the Appalachian Trail Jay Erskine Leutze  |  Simon & Schuster, 2012   Stand Up That Mountain, written by Jay Leutze, is about the legal battle to stop a gravel mine, known...

Humble Pie – Lessons Learned 2014

Eating Humble Pie – Lessons Imparted I just finished up (I think?) what I imagine is a common year-end process for new small businesses: I balanced up the books, generated an income statement, starting looking into taxes and potential deductions, polished up my gas...

Reflective – Pressure & Direction

A repost of a short piece I wrote to accompany an image posted to Flickr from a March 2014 trip to Folly Beach in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  I was three months into my first year of full-time photography and I guess you could say I was feeling the pressure!...

2014 Annual Review – Statistics & Opportunities

General Discussion Statistics are cold and impartial. They care not for the stories or experiences behind their truths. They just are. As I look back at some of my year one statistics, I’m proud of some of the numbers and I’m frankly embarrassed by some of the...

Year in Review – 14 for 2014

Here it is, 2014 boiled down to fourteen photographs.  You would think that reducing a year into fourteen photographs would be difficult because that's too few to represent such a vast amount of time.  In reality, it was really difficult to choose fourteen photographs...

On Place: The Potomac River Gorge

On Place:  The Potomac River Gorge SUBJECT: The Potomac River Gorge LOCATION: Northern Virginia GENERAL BACKGROUND: The Potomac River is the fourth largest river on the Atlantic Coast by area at roughly four hundred miles in length and an average width of 1500 feet...

Giving Thanks – Living the Dream

“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” That was the number one cited regret from folks who were at the end of their life looking back reflectively at what had and hadn’t been according to a blog post I stumbled...

From the Field: Western North Carolina Mountains

Destination: Western North Carolina Mountains Dates: October 11-13 & 15-17 My annual autumn trek to North Carolina was two-part this season, with the first part being a three day weekend with my mother (also an avid photographer), and the second part being a more...

Craft Thoughts: Meaningful Photography

I received my November copy of Outdoor Photographer Magazine today and read a very good article by author and photographer, Guy Tal (The Concept:  How to Have a Purpose and Make a Plan), on the difference between taking a photograph OF something versus taking a...

From the Field: The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The Cape Hatteras Light Station on North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore (southern OBX) is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States at roughly two-hundred feet in height. Why so tall? It’s said that the original location of the light was so low and...

From the Field: Ricketts Glen State Park Autumn 2014

Destination: Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania Dates: October 2-4, 2014 The autumn color season began for me in Pennsylvania, as it has for the past couple of years. Why Pennsylvania? My mother has roots there and thus, I have roots there: memories of visiting my...

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