I’m endlessly surprised by number of places I can go from my home in Northern Virginia to find nature and solitude within a 45-minute-drive radius. One of my favorite things to do is take long-exposure pictures of running water, and Prince William Forest, run by the National Park Service, with miles and miles of creek-side trails, provides ample opportunities for me to play with my neutral density filters while enjoying a relaxing hike. This image was taken along the South Valley Trail this weekend; it’s actually a composite of three different photos (thus HDR), each of which was several seconds long. Creating an HDR image allowed me to show the rocks in the creek in detail without blowing out the bright sky in the background, and the long exposure times make the water appear smooth. Not only do I like the effects I get in my photographs by taking long exposures, but I appreciate being forced to stop, slow down, and just appreciate my surroundings. Sometimes when hiking I’m tempted to churn through as many miles as I can, but I think there’s a benefit in stopping to set up the tripod and spending a few minutes making each image that goes beyond the beauty of the resulting photographs and extends into my psyche. Even if I trash the photos once I get home, the time was never wasted.