Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ava near the Sunken Road, Fredericksburg, VA

During my weekend at Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg (GRF) in Virginia, I had a couple of hours free on Sunday afternoon to do a session. My customer had contacted me to ask a question about doing a session Greyhounds in Gettysburg (GIG) next year, and when I mentioned that I was going to be in Fredericksburg attending the event we arranged to hook up for an hour or so to photograph her two Greyhounds. She actually drove a couple of hours from her home in Maryland to meet me -- I'm still stunned that someone would do this. So I had better not screw this up.

Before we flew out to Virginia I was mulling over where would be a nice location to shoot and still be close to the hotel hosting GRF. I didn't really think the ponds adjacent to the hotel was picturesque enough. My friends suggested the Sunken Road a couple of miles to the east near downtown Fredericksburg. It was a great suggestion.

If you don't know your Civil War history, the Sunken Road (I didn't before I watched Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War), which runs parallel to a stone wall, is the site where, in December 1862,  Confederate troops under Brigadier General T. R. R. Cobb and General James Longstreet fought off numerous charges by Union soldiers in their attempts to take Marye's Heights, which overlook Fredericksburg. It ended being a disaster for the bluecoats, and ultimately led to the resignation of Union General Ambrose Burnside as head of the Army of the Potomac. Such was the slaughter of the Union troops that General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commented during the battle, "It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it."

Although the sun was still somewhat high above the horizon, it was settling to the west, so the lighting was spectacular: low enough angle, nice long shadows, highlights not overly harsh. I took some photos of Ava and Daisy along the Sunken Road, and then we decided to walk up a driveway that led to a house atop a hill. After passing through a gate at the beginning of the driveway Ava stopped, turned, and looked to her left to see what was going on back on the Sunken Road.


I digitally removed the leash and its shadow, brought down the exposure, increased the Recovery slider to 100 to restore highlights I'd blown out, played with tone curves a bit to add more contrast, and added a vignette. I had a good time photographing these two; I'll share a photo of Daisy in a future post.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 using the 70-200mm VR zoom at 70mm; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; camera chose shutter speed of 1/500 second at ISO 200; center-weighted metered; auto white balance; shot in RAW, converted to DNG format using Adobe DNG converter, and imported into  Lightroom.)


  1. What a beautiful picture of Ava. We used to live downtown a few blocks from the university. Lots of Civil War history in the area.

    1. one of these days i hope to visit more battlefields in virginia, and to do it at a more leisurely pace.

  2. Gorgeous shot! I am so starved for light right now, it isn't even funny!

    And thanks for sharing the cool history there. I love hearing stories like that!

    1. i was not really expecting the light to be so good at 2pm, but it was great when we got there and just got better and better the longer we stayed.