For many others, the mark of a great trip is an image they can share with friends and family, or display in their home and look back on to remember where they were when they created it.
Vincent Knaus knows that feeling.
He’s a professional photographer who teaches a wide array of photography classes around the region. Look for his offerings locally at River Rock Outfitter and through the Fredericksburg Department of Parks and Recreation.
Read on for Knaus’ thoughts on the opportunities the Fredericksburg region holds for creating impactful photos, which he very wisely states is not about looking, but seeing.
But don’t stop there.
Pick up your own camera, whether it’s your phone or a fancy DSLR, and start creating your own images of what inspires you in the Fredericksburg region.
We know you see beauty in this region every day. We can’t wait to see Fredericksburg through your eyes.
How to find great photos
Knaus says a lot of people might be surprised at the diversity of wildlife they can photograph in the Fredericksburg area.
Bald eagles can often be seen along the Rappahannock River, even within the city limits. The Falmouth Flats, just below Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont, can be a great place to capture water in motion, fish and birds.
“You can find bald eagles in places where you really don’t expect them,” he said. “It seems like the population is expanding all the time so they are expanding their range.”
Near his own home in the Widewater area of Stafford County, he has seen bald eagles, herons and other notable wildlife.
Widewater is a peninsula bordered by the Potomac River and Aquia Creek. It is currently being developed as a state park, but access is still limited. For clear access to the river, consider visiting Aquia Landing Park, on the other side of Aquia Creek, or the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve along Potomac Creek, both accessed by Brooke Road.
Spotsylvania County's Lake Anna State Park is another excellent place to see wading waterfowl and other wildlife.
Take a walk
The hunt for photos can be a chance to get some physical activity in the outdoors. Knaus recommends what are known locally as the Quarry Trails along the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg.
These trails can be accessed by parking in the lot on Fall Hill Avenue, using the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail to cross the bridge that goes under the road, and walking along the Rappahannock Canal out to the river.
Here a spectactular river view will open up for you. Knaus recommends bringing water along for the walk in the summer time, because you can explore the trails for quite a distance, but the area does provide natural shade.
When walking with camera in hand, though, he cautions not to get too caught up in making good time.
“A lot of people will pick a trail and they want to finish the trail. This is really one of those activities where you do need to slow down,” he said. “Take your time and don’t worry that maybe every photograph you take isn’t great. The more you practice, the better you get.”
Plan your day
Truly moving images are all about great light. Knaus encourages photographers of all kinds to remember what’s known as the “golden hours.” That’s roughly the hours before and after sunrise and sunset, when the sun throws golden light and dramatic shadows that can transform scenes of all kinds.
If you plan your day around these hours, the benefits could go beyond just your photography.
“It’s a really nice time of day to be out there,” Knaus said. “It’s quiet and cool. You don’t have as much hustle and bustle.”
And even the wildlife seem to know these hours are golden.
“Usually the birds are feeding in the morning and the evening,” Knaus said. “Like everybody else, they’re trying to stay in during the heat of the day.”
One thing Knaus tells his students and everyone he works with is the importance of consistent practice for anyone who wants to create better images.
“You’re going to be no better as a photographer than you are right now unless you go out and practice,” he said.
Get inspired by searching online through Google or photo-sharing sites like Flickr for places where other people have made great images, then go out and create your own.
Over time, he says, you’ll develop a new way of seeing photo opportunities.
“A lot of times it’s not the looking, it’s the seeing. You can have five people walk the same path and when everyone comes back and compares their photos you’ll say, ‘I never would have thought to look for that,’” he said.
“The more you go out, the more you practice, the more you’ll find those things you want to find.”
So pick up your camera and start sharing what you find under the #sharefxbg hashtag. We can’t wait to see what you create.
Want to learn more?
Knaus hosts three Meetup Groups for photographers of all levels to explore different topics and locations. These groups are open to anyone, no matter what kind of equipment you’re using or how long you’ve been shooting. Find details here.