Moore has always been interested in photography. While in law school at the University of Virginia, he would walk through the mountains and take pictures as a hobby. But after practicing law for a while, he started taking his hobby more seriously. In 1978 his interest was reawakened when his wife gave him a view camera for his birthday. The view camera is a camera whose basic form hasn’t changed for nearly 100 years. Boxy and awkward, it stands on a tripod and is what Matthew Brady used to capture images during the Civil War. While Moore asked for the view camera, the real surprise was that his wife had arranged for him to spend 10 days with the famous nature photographer Ansel Adams in Yosemite Valley, Calif.
“That was the real inspiration for my work,” Moore said. “Just getting the opportunity to talk to him and walk around with him in the area where he had been taking pictures for over 60 years was wonderful. He taught me that it’s just coming back to a place again and again that will enable you to take a great picture. You gotta be ready and you gotta be there.”
Returning to the Shenandoah Valley over and over again is what allowed Moore to produce the misty, magical images in his book. The oldest picture was taken in 1981 and the most recent in 2002. Some of the photographs display natural changes that have occurred. In one instance there’s a tree growing out of a rock face. Then, on the opposing page, a picture of the same scene was taken seven years later, but the tree had died. The light, which takes on a silver cast, brings the images to life so the two look like completely different scenes. Moore says he can’t put his finger on what brought him to go back and take the shot again.
“I’d love to say that there was some esoteric reason as to why I came back, but there really isn’t,” Moore says. “I am drawn by the sky, the light. Sometimes it just does wonderful things. And I’ve found out that when that happens you just have to set up and make a picture. It happens so rarely these days that you really have to take advantage of it when you see it.”
With all the time Moore spends with nature, he’s developed a real concern over the environment and air quality. “Throughout the time that I have been going up to Shenandoah, things should have been getting a little better, and I don’t think they’re much better at all as far as the view is concerned,” Moore says. “It is rare indeed that you see a really super-clear day. It happens in October and March, and only then after a front that had right much rain and wind in it.”
The State Corporation Commission allows Moore a little control over protecting the environment he so loves. The commission has to approve the construction of any new power plants, and, by doing so, Moore is able to look out for the best interests of the park. His concerns are a safeguard that will preserve the light and the view for everyone, while allowing him to return again and capture what he sees through his lens. S
Moore will be signing copies of his book at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Fountain Bookstore, 1312 E. Cary St. For information call 788-1594.
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