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                   Tuesday, May 13, 2008 - 10:40PM

XSi first run - New River 'Dries' surfing

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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Bill Coyle and Matt (my brother) are not going to believe this day has finally come. I went downtown today and bought a Canon Rebel XSi from Merrill Photo Supply, fulfilling literally years of intentions of going DSLR. I got a good price from Merrill's on the body / 18-55 EF IS lens kit, in fact about the same as if I'd ordered online from B&H with rush shipping (and B&H was out of stock of the XSi anyway). The local camera shops have actually been pretty competitive lately with their prices. Slightly more expensive after you figure sales tax, but surprisingly not by much. I like being able to touch and hold what I'm going to spend $1,000 on, and be able to take it back to the store if something goes wrong. Anyway...

So the clear blue skies and a brand new camera meant what else - a trip to the New River Gorge for a first run. All of these photos are from the new camera (aside from the one Dries comparison shot below). I made the big photos expandable to larger versions by clicking on each respective one.

We've had quite a bit of rain lately, so the rivers were running about 3 to 6 feet higher than normal (even more in the narrow gorge). So my first stop was at the 'Dries' of the New. This section of the river, at and around Cotton Hill, is downstream of Hawk's Nest Dam - which diverts most of the river water through a tunnel to a hydro plant downstream. So, the river is usually running at just a trickle through here, hence the 'Dries' name. When the river is running high from heavy rains, the 'Dries' transform into a series of impressive rapids - the most famous being a series of standing waves at Cotton Hill. The rock formations here create stationary waves when submerged with rushing water, which are favorites of 'extreme sport' kayakers. Whenever this section of the New is flooded, whitewater fans come from miles around to 'surf the Dries'.

Here is what the 'Dries' looks like normally (from the old camera):

And here are the Dries in (minor) flood today:

Kayakers 'surf' the waves:

Today's Dries waves were pretty tame compared to how big they can get on occasion.

Any trip to the Gorge has to include the bridge in some form:

Cathedral Falls along Route 60 at Gauley Bridge:

Back in Charleston, some cityscapes at twilight:

I also bought the cable release for this camera, so it's ready for the first lightning event within an hour's drive of Charleston (hopefully which will be in the next few days).

Part of what influenced my decision to take the plunge is the fact that I'll be adding a basic photography session surcharge onto my web design fees, if a client requires photography of their place of business, products, machinery and staff (about 40% of our projects do). The photos (full rez, up to 50 images) will be delivered on a CD-ROM, as well as a group of up to 10 used on the web site itself and in the site graphics. So, I'm able to introduce another value-added service to my design projects, while paying for the equipment itself!

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