Fall 2022 – Supporting Our Trails

I am a lifelong environmentalist.  For almost two years now, I’ve been registered with the National Park Service as a trail steward in Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I’m supporting our trails.  I’m responsible for keeping tabs on the Cedar Ridge Trail, observing and reporting whenever any major trail work needs to be done.  The NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail, or MST, also follows the Blue Ridge Parkway through Doughton Park before it turns to descend the escarpment into Stone Mountain State Park.

So I also spend a lot of time hiking on the MST, unable to help myself, staying in “observe and report” mode as I also explore opportunities for beautiful photography and timelapse captures.  I’m working on an essay describing my adventures finding and protecting several Carolina Lilies along the MST in the park (stay tuned!).  This adventure was the catalyst for me getting to know the leaders of the Friends of the MST a little bit better.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ben Erlandson Photography (@beerland)

The MST is a state treasure, running 1175 miles from Clingmans Dome to the Outer Banks.  On the sections I’ve hiked, I have to say that is an excellent trail.  In order for the MST to stay excellent, it needs a lot of maintenance: volunteer hours and donations of dollars.

In addition to volunteering, I’m raising funds for the Friends of the MST by selling special edition signed and numbered prints of several recent photographs I’ve captured along the MST, either in Doughton Park or Stone Mountain Park.

Fundraiser Details

One of the things I like most about these signed matted prints is that, if you want to frame it, it is a standard sized mat, which means it will be easier to find a frame you like that fits the decor of the space where you choose to hang it.

There are twenty-five prints total: four sets of five numbered prints, and five individually numbered prints.  The prints I’ve created are mounted, matted, and protected in a cellophane sleeve, as shown here:

One of the signed matted prints for sale.

Profits beyond cost for the matted prints will be donated to the Friends of the MST.  If I sell all the prints, the total donation will be $1,375.00.  If I can raise this total by the end of November 2022, I will personally round it up to an even $1500.00!

If you’d like to purchase one or more prints, they can be shipped anywhere in the United States, or picked up in person at my studio office in Sparta, NC.  I’ve included a purchase link for each photo print, which will take you to my Square checkout site for ordering online.

Beware: Prints are available on a first come, first served basis!!!

Below you’ll find a description of each photo print available.

MST – Doughton Park (series of 5)

Print size is 8 x 12 inches, gray matte size is 12 x 16 inches

$100 – Purchase this print

The MST is just out of the frame, to the right of this big rock.  This is one of the most iconic spots in Doughton Park.  I love the way the light hits the grass.

Fall Colors Over Stone Mountain (series of 5)

Print size is 8 x 12 inches, gray matte size is 12 x 16 inches

$100 – Purchase this print

This is a great view of Stone Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway, near one of the overlooks.  You can’t see it, but the MST goes down through that valley.

MST – Doughton Tree Rock (series of 5)

Print size is 8 x 12 inches, gray matte size is 12 x 16 inches

$100 – Purchase this print

This is one of my favorite trees in Doughton Park.  Where I was standing to take this shot, the MST runs directly behind me.  I’ve always enjoyed capturing natural shadows on different surfaces.  It’s like a sun signature, perhaps?

MST – Bluffs Cloud Mirror (series of 5)

Print size is 8 x 12 inches, gray matte size is 12 x 16 inches

$100 – Purchase this print

This is one of my favorite photos in my collection.  Seriously.  I came up on this familiar spot after a particular rain with lingering puddles, and got lucky enough to capture this shot.  This is the Bluffs.  One of my sanctuaries.  Clearly shown is the trail marker for the MST.

Stone Mountain (1/1)

Print size is 9 x 12 inches, light gray matte size is 16 x 20 inches

$150 – Purchase this print

This is one of the better shots of Stone Mountain I’ve ever captured from below grade.  If you didn’t know, Stone Mountain is a monadnock, which is “an isolated hill or ridge or erosion-resistant rock rising above a peneplain.”  It’s one big solid rock.  I love how the black and white shows off its beautiful texture.

MST – Storm Clouds Over Doughton (1/1)

Print size is 9 x 12 inches, light gray matte size is 16 x 20 inches

$150 – Purchase this print

This is a shot straight down the MST, headed southbound, or eastbound, toward the ocean.  One of the best things about Doughton Park (and all of the escarpment) is the constantly dynamic skies.  Never the same skies twice.  Every second should be savored.  This is also what makes Doughton such a great spot for timelapse captures.

Unknown Creek Reflection (1/1)

Print size is 9 x 12 inches, light gray matte size is 16 x 20 inches

$150 – Purchase this print

I’ve always been interested in capturing reflections.  Sometimes it’s best to slow down, be still, and look down!

MST – Foggy Morning Spider (1/1)

Print size is 9 x 12 inches, light gray matte size is 16 x 20 inches

$150 – Purchase this print

The open corridor of the MST is a haven for spiders.  With all the fog we get up here, this is a very common scene.  The early bird gets the morning dew (or fog) on the webs, with perfect angles of light!

MST – Wildcat Sunrise (1/1)

Print size is 9 x 12 inches, light gray matte size is 16 x 20 inches

$150 – Purchase this print

Basically every time I go to Doughton, I visit Wildcat Rock.  Since I was a small child.  So, I’ve been coming to this spot for over forty years.  This is a sacred space.  The MST runs along the pasture on the left, which is where the Storm Clouds shot mentioned above was captured.

Juried Selections in 2022

Today, I received notice of another juried selection for my photography, so I thought it would be a good time to update everyone on all my juried selections in 2022 so far!  I’ll go in reverse order, starting with the most recent.

Art Through The Lens 2022

Pinhole Sunbeams

2022 September // Pinhole Sunbeams.  Art Through The Lens International Juried Photography Exhibition (Juried Selection). 

Sept 24 – November 12 at the Yeiser Art Center.  Paducah, KY. https://theyeiser.org/art-through-the-lens/

12″ x 18″ – $1000

This photo was captured using a Thingyfy Pinhole Pro S “lens” adapter on my Canon 6D.  If memory serves, this is from one of two locations on the New River in southwest Virginia.  I shot it in December 2019.  And you thought it was never OK to stare straight into the sun?  Think again. 🙂 Continue reading Juried Selections in 2022

Creative Concepts: Ecological Experiential Documentation

As I continue to travel the world—and spend more time exploring my own big backyard right here in North Carolina—I’ve come to realize that I can apply my academic training, professional experience, intelligence, and creative abilities in a combined effort over the next few decades to produce what I think and believe will be experiential documents worth consuming as materials for lifelong learning and understanding.  I am conceptualizing an ongoing series of experiential documentation, taking appropriate form over time as ebooks, print books, magazines, interactive apps, websites, and perhaps even videos.

This concept first came to me when I was looking at a map of the United States and thinking about the difference between national parks and national monuments.  Based on my personal experience onsite at various national monuments, coupled with my research and perusal of the maps of these monuments and the surrounding areas, I realized that I would love to commit to exploring and documenting a sense of place in each of these areas—demonstrating their importance as sacred spaces for maintaining the natural order of our relationship with the environment and all other species with which we share it.

So, to put a stake in the ground, I created a map of all the US National Monuments.  (Yes, there is at least one that does not appear in the image.)

Map of United States National Monuments
Map of United States National Monuments

Inspired by my recent trip to Helsinki, which included a stay at the hostel on Suomenlinna, I decided to add UNESCO World Heritage sites to the map.  I figured it would be interesting to see how many UNESCO sites in North America are within reasonable proximity to US National Monuments, thus allowing me to combine several locations into exploratory experiential documentation journeys of 1-3 months in duration.

Continue reading Creative Concepts: Ecological Experiential Documentation

Building Rental In Downtown Elkin

205 South Bridge Street

Welcome to 205 South Bridge Street in Elkin, North Carolina.  We’re actively seeking rental tenants for the building.

The building at 205 South Bridge is situated at the primary entrance to downtown Elkin—one of the few places to cross the Yadkin River between Yadkin and Surry Counties.  There are approximately 10,000 cars per day that cross this bridge.

With two business partners, I bought the property in early 2015 to renovate and use as local Elkin offices for the remote work we’ve done through various national and international employers and contracts.  We’ve done quite a bit to transform the inside and outside of the building and grounds, including a complete overhaul of the north suite into tech-friendly offices, as well as the addition of a large patio on the east side of the building, a new storage shed on the northeast corner of the building, a sidewalk and terraced garden on the south slope of the property, and several garden boxes and landscaped flower beds on the west side of the building near South Bridge Street, which is also US Highway 21 Business.

We’re finishing the renovations to the building by the end of 2017, with the goal to be rent-ready in mid-January 2018.

Continue reading Building Rental In Downtown Elkin

The Future of Elkin North Carolina – Empty Stores Downtown

Like many small towns in the United States of America, my hometown, Elkin, North Carolina, is facing many problems in the post-industrial experience of the twenty-first century.  There don’t seem to be many good options for what this and so many other towns can or should become, now that singular industries employing thousands of people, as did Chatham Manufacturing12 during its heyday, are no longer a viable option for small towns in the United States.

Empty Stores

In recent months, there has been a substantial increase in empty stores on Main Street in Historic Downtown Elkin.  There are enough empty stores now that people have begun to take notice and discuss this issue in continued passing conversation on a regular basis.  Recently, a meeting was convened to discuss the economic future of Downtown Elkin, specifically as a result of this recent increase in empty stores. Continue reading The Future of Elkin North Carolina – Empty Stores Downtown