Bad Weather and Good Friends at Tremont

great smoky mountains institute at tremont - val in real life

Let’s face it, life dishes out the unexpected and undesired. A lot. The only thing we’re in control of is how we respond, right? I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Georgia. Part of the time was dedicated to hanging out with Fred and George. The rest was mostly allocated to attending the spring photography workshop at my beloved Great Smoky …

The Value of an Image

Value of an Image - Val in Real Life

What is the value of a photograph? In the digital age, unauthorized use of an image doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s just pixels, right? No, it isn’t. What gives an image value? What would you pay for art to hang on your wall? An image that brings peace, inspiration, or beauty into your life? You wouldn’t walk into a store, …

Turning Misfortune into Opportunity: A Photographic Journey

Val in Real Life

Each April I return to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont for the spring photography workshop led by the fabulous Bill Lea. While it’s largely a family reunion for me and I love spending time with people who constantly inspire me, I also look forward to honing my photography skills when I’m there. At the Tremont workshops (both spring and …

Death Valley Super Bloom

Death Valley Super Bloom - Val in Real Life

A few weeks ago, I got to shuttle myself out to Death Valley National Park for the Super Bloom. The timing was such that I had to be there President’s Day weekend… so it was crowded and a bit before the super bloom’s peak. Given the once-in-a-lifetime nature of this event, I wasn’t going to be picky so I took …

Adventures with the TomTom Bandit

TomTom Bandit Review by Val in Real Life

I have a new friend, the TomTom Bandit. This little guy is a feature-packed action camera and I’m quite tickled with it. I’m very new to the action camera market. I only dived in just before I left for Bikes, Blues, and BBQ in September when I bought a Garmin VIRB. Shortly after, TomTom approached me about reviewing the Bandit. …

Mentor

Today I’m back in the Great Smoky Mountains for my photographic family reunion. It’s time for the Autumn Brilliance workshop again and this is where I come to get rejuvenated and inspired by my friends and mentors. There’s an undertone of melancholy to this one, though. While it’s only my fourth fall workshop at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at …

Mojo

I just returned from another whirlwind adventure… a two-parter. I spent 6 days on the Hell Hike and Raft in Idaho followed by a trip to Virginia City in Nevada. Each journey is a well-spring of new discoveries but this time I discovered something old. My mojo. I’ve been phoning it in, photography-wise, for quite some time. Maybe you’ve noticed, …

Small Worlds

Greetings from Craters of the Moon in Idaho. I’m posting entirely from my smartphone for the first time ever due to a case of no-signal-itis so today’s postcard will be quite brief. I’m in a land of massive vistas, violent geologic history, and the dramatic landscapes, but what I love about this place are the little details… The life taking …

Postcards from Real Life: Building Bridges

Last weekend I scooted off to the Georgia Nature Photographers Association’s annual expo at Unicoi State Park. As you can imagine, an event like this is energizing in many ways. Getting to catch up with friends, letting my inner photography nerd run free amongst fellow enthusiasts, and meeting other inspiring photographers are just a few of the advantages. Our keynote …

George L. Smith State Park: A Photo Essay

Last weekend, the Camp Granola crew set off for a camping adventure in George L. Smith State Park in central Georgia. It was one of many trips we’ve taken around the state to complete the Georgia State Parks Geocaching Challenge. Being the types inclined to head to the mountains, the challenge has forced us to step put of our comfort …