When I go on a trip I always debate whether or not to bring a tripod. It's a hassle -- lugging it through airports and security, not being sure the situation will even come up where you need it, etc, etc. I normally try and travel pretty light, and the tripod just seems to be counter to that. But in the end, I normally talk myself into bringing it; and on this last trip to Virginia I'm glad I did. The photo above is the Rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. After dinner at a nearby restaurant, it was too early to start shooting and too late to try and do something else and come back for the photos, so my wife Kim and I parked ourselves on a bench -- where we enjoyed the great spring weather, watched a wedding photographer take some photos of a bridal party on the steps, and basically waited patiently for dusk. The photo here is a 5-shot bracketed HDR just as some great clouds were moving through near the end of the shoot. The longer exposures in this series were in the 8-second range (so the tripod was absolutely necessary). At first I was a little bothered by the movement of the clouds, but the more I see this image, the more I like them. There are alot of landscape photographers who, I think, see blurred clouds as a badge of honor. Like, "Yes, of course the clouds are blurred. How else could I shoot that scene." It's sort of the photographic equivalent of foie gras and sushi - that only foodie types can appreciate those foods; and only more advanced photography aficionados can truly understand and appreciate blurred clouds ... or maybe I'm just making a bigger deal than necessary out of something technically necessary to get a good exposure.
Never having been to Charlottesville before, what really struck me about this building and Monticello was how similar they both are to the Jefferson Monument in DC -- a pantheon design with a large center rotunda and columns along the entrances. In this shot at the university, a life-size statue of Jefferson sits on the north side (shown here). The blurred clouds, however, just take some getting used to.