Summer Blues Part 2 – Ivy Creek Natural Area

One of my favorite things about the hot weather are pollinators. A great place to shoot these little flyers is at Ivy Creek Natural Area off Earlysville Road by the reservoir.

Ivy Creek has 215 acres of natural area with 7 miles of trails taking you through grasslands, woods, over streams and along the shore of the reservoir. It’s a wonderful respite from the hectic day just minutes from Rio Road.

One of my favorite features at the natural area is the butterfly garden off the paved wheelchair accessible trail next to the Education Building and across from the barn. Various native species have been planted to attract our local pollinators.

Summer, July & August, is prime time for the garden to be in bloom. A small oasis of color in our otherwise dull green landscape. A huge variety of bees, butterflies, and other interesting bugs abound.

Pick a sunny afternoon to head out. The natural area is open 7a to dusk 7 days a week year round, except for major holidays. There is ample parking and it’s a short walk to the small garden.

I recommend a 100mm macro lens if you have it, but a 50mm macro or a general zoom 75-200mm with an extension tube will work well also. These guys are small so a macro lens or extension tubes to help you get close-up are best.

I typically handhold as a tripod can be cumbersome in the close quarters of the garden. Sunny days will give you fast shutter speeds to capture their rapid movements. While the chase is fun it can be exhausting, so I prefer to find a nice flower with a good background and wait for something to show up.

Check out Ivy Creek’s website,  They have a wealth of information on native flora and fauna with several ID sheets so you can later identify what you’ve captured.

Ivy Creek is a wonderful photographic destination year round for the nature photographer. I recommend checking them out throughout the year. If you enjoy the lands consider becoming a member and donating to help keep this local treasure around. Ivy Creek Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that depends on member donations to keep up staffing and programs.

Summer Blues

It’s hot outside, the light is harsh and the landscape is no longer lush and vibrant. So what’s a photographer to do? Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you through a few of my favorite summertime photography locations in Charlottesville.

First off is the downtown mall. Things are hopping here in the evenings. The sun is up late so you have good to decent light until 8:30 – 9p. There are lots of people, architecture, vendors, street performers, reflections, abstracts and the list goes on! 

The sun bursts through the trees for starbursts, dramatic light, and shadows. The atmosphere varies from upbeat descending to calm and peaceful as night approaches. Cooler temperatures are a pleasant respite from the day’s heat.

This is great practice for any trips you may be taking over the summer. Practice street shooting in your own backyard. Come back often for different lighting, weather conditions and to challenge yourself to find new and interesting compositions.

Then reward yourself with ice cream from Chaps! They validate parking also, so it’s a twofer.

If you’re a slug like me and need some motivation to get out shooting, join me starting next week for my Travel/Street Photography class through PVCC. For more information on the class click on the link below for the summer catalog at PVCC and go to page 6 for a description of the class.

So get out to the downtown mall and enjoy photographing one of Charlottesville’s lively locations.