Common Ground

Common Ground is a visual commentary on life in Hampton Roads, in which a Virginian-Pilot photographer explores a topic of his or her choosing.

Starting Dec. 21, 2014

Moving Pictures by The Photo Staff of The Virginian-Pilot

Moving Pictures is a series of time-lapse videos produced by Virginian-Pilot photographers. A time-lapse is a video presentation where the images are captured at a much slower rate than used to view the sequence. As a result, time in the video is altered and reality seems to speed up. What these scenes reveal can be a fascinating way to view the commonplace. In the coming weeks, we will write about them here, along with our thoughts and challenges in constructing them, and hope you enjoy these projects as much as we did producing them.

MOVING PICTURES: Metamorphosis of a Monarch Butterfly


by L. Todd Spencer | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | Luck comes to those who prepare. Even for butterfly enthusiasts.

This past summer my family planted milkweed in our back yard, which is the only plant that the monarch caterpillar eats. By late September, the milkweed began to disappear. Caterpillars had arrived. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is truly wondrous, passing through milestones of molt and chrysalis and emergence. I was lucky enough to document their metamorphosis, and to witness the monarchs’ departure as they began their instinctual migration to Mexico.

But the wonder is in jeopardy as monarch populations are declining at an alarming rate because of decreasing milkweed habitat. If you want to help, and to witness the cycle for yourself, you can grow a little luck of your own by planting locally appropriate species of milkweed in your own yard.


Posted to: caterpillar cool metamorphosis monarch butterfly nature transformation Virginia Virginia Beach



by Rich-Joseph Facun | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | Nature is cyclical and predictable, almost to a fault. Each day, without question, the sun will rise and daylight will come, eventually retiring to the evening moon.
Along the shore where Chic’s Beach meets the Chesapeake Bay, the ebbs and flows of the tide are reminders of this cons tancy. Yet, within this stability of movement, the details communicate a different story. If you pause and exhale, an entirely new world reveals itself. It can be seen in the abstract patterns made in the sand by wind and water or in the bubbling, bouncing sea foam. It can be heard in the dance of a wave caressing the coastal edge as the light shifts from east to west – moon shadows waxing and waning along the dunes.
If allowed, the juxtaposition of these details can bring a sense of calm. It is, to some degree, an organized chaos that leads to a balancing of nature, externally and internally. Here, along the shore, nature nurtures.

MOVING PICTURES: Oyster Harvesting


by Stephen Katz | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | Early in the 19th century, oysters were considered as common a food as hot dogs are today. Rivers like the Lynnhaven were brimming with the popular bivalve. But due to rampant shoreline development, and subsequent pollution in the 1960s and ’70s, paired with overharvesting, the Lynnhaven oyster was all but wiped out . However, thanks to the efforts of groups such as Lynnhaven River Now, harvests have increased ten fold over the past decade. More than 40 percent of the river is now viable grounds for oyster farmers like Chris Ludford, owner of Ludford Brothers Oyster Co. Working with helper Hans Wacht meister, he fills orders for the salty delicacy on a recent gloomy morning.



by The' Pham | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | The skateboard flies into the air, while its owner lands hard on the concrete at the Northside Skate Park in Norfolk. Loud “ohs” and “ahs” fill the air. The skater gets up, grabs his board and continues like nothing has happened. He has to try again. Skateboarding is not for the weak-hearted. While it can look effortless when skaters link trick after trick, mastering the ability to defy gravity requires a series of failures, and hard reminders that what goes up must come down. “It is an indescribable feeling when you are able to do a trick,” says 18-year-old Burk Golden. “It’s fun.” Burk, who has been skating for eight years, has broken his wrist three times trying to master the sport. He knows skating can be dangerous , but he loves it. “It is a dangerous sport,” says Alea Glotterup, who comes out to the park to watch and cheer for her friends. “It looks scary.” Shad LaJesse, 39, who has been skating for years, knows his limits. “I only push what I can take,” says LaJesse, pictured above at center with Dennis Yankow, who learned to skate when he was 10 years old. He used to think skating was for kids, but now he has a wider view. LaJesse takes his son, Morgan, 11, to skate with him, at leas t once or twice a week for few hours for some unique father and son bonding time. “You only live once,” says LaJesse.



by Bill Tiernan | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | The old cherry tree stands in the front yard under a canopy of pines near the Lafayette River in Norfolk. Its branches are slowly rotting, but each spring it buds with new green leaves. The cycle continues in the fall as the leaves turn a bright yellow and begin to drop. Just before Thanksgiving the tree is bare. But not for long. Beth Cochran begins the four-day process of transforming the trunk and branches into a menagerie of light for the Christmas holiday. As Beth wraps the trunk and branches with more than 130 strands of LED lights, the old cherry tree comes alive again, if only for a few weeks. Icicles and stars mingle with the colors that outline the branches and hang to the ground. Each evening during the holidays, the light from Beth’s tree fills the darkness. It might be visible from space.



by Martin Smith-Rodden | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | Old Dominion University is an important part of our community and has certainly been a big part of my life, where both my son and I recently graduated from our bachelors and graduate programs, respectively. More than that, the spectacle at football games has been a significant theme in my life as a 3-decade photojournalist. Given all of this, the excitement of ODU football seemed a natural choice for me as my first time-lapse project. As it turned out, it seemed far from an easy choice. There was some advance work and coordination with the kind people at ODU to find a good, secure position for a camera to capture an entire game day, from dawn to dusk. We settled on a camera position inside the press box on the West side of the field. On the night before the November 8th game between ODU and Florida International University, a GoPro (a compact video camera for high-action photography) was mounted in the press box. At 5:00 the next morning I arrived to start the camera’s process of taking the sequence of images for the time lapse. I went on to photograph the game on the sidelines as part of our regular coverage. To my surprise, when I went up to retrieve the camera after the game was over and the stadium went dark, I learned that the camera mysteriously stopped shooting sometime mid-morning. After running several tests we are not absolutely sure why the GoPro failed, but the most likely explanation was the camera overheated.

With lessons learned, we started planning for the November 22 match-up between ODU and Louisiana Tech. Instead of using a GoPro, we felt a more reliable rig would be using a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR, specifically, a Canon 5D MarkII) with a special timer, set to trigger the sequence to begin shooting before dawn, at a rate of one photo every 5 seconds. With great cooperation from ODU, again we set it up in the press box. After doing a trial-run the day before, and it worked like a charm on game day, capturing the build-up and excitement with 9190 photos and a runtime of 4 and a half minutes.





by Steve Earley | The Virginian-Pilot

MOVING PICTURES | We all know the Ghost of Christmas Past
and the vivid scenes of Victorian England brought to us by
Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol.” Now Nauticus and the
Virginia Stage Company have created an interactive holiday attraction
inspired by the setting of that timeless tale. Set up in the
Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in downtown Norfolk,
Dickens’ Christmas Towne offers visitors a chance to stroll
the streets with carolers, jugglers and actors in period costume.
What does it take to build such an attraction? Here’s a breakdown,
by the numbers.

47,000 fasteners to hold it all together
15,000 square feet of space in the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration
13,000 linear feet of lumber to build over 100 shop facades
4,800 hours of labor by local artisans and laborers
300 sheets of plywood
200 miles traveled each day by model trains as they circle a miniature
festive alpine village
70 gallons of paint
60 wreaths
44 bows made of red ribbon
30 gallons of joint compound to add texture to the buildings
21 candy canes in a jar in the confectioner’s window
20 gallons of Elmer’s white glue
18 Christmas trees
13 actors
12 poinsettias
10 shops where you can buy cupcakes, ornaments, treats and much more
7 gallons of wood glue
5 carolers
4 fowl hanging in the poulterer’s window
3 candy cane columns
2 craft shops, one to make ornaments and the other to decorate cookies
1 golden throne with red velvet, because where else is Father Christmas
going to sit?

if you go:
What: Dickens’ Christmas Towne
Where: Half Moone Cruise and Celebration
Center, One Waterside Drive, Norfolk
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and
Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays through
Dec. 28; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Eve,
closed Christmas Day.
Cost: $5 adults, $4 children 4-12; ages 3
and younger are free
More info: 664-1000, www.dickenschristmastowne.com

What's Inside: Memories


Marshall Belanga, 77, is rooted deeply to his ancestors, and the land they inhabited in southern Virginia Beach. Family history was passed down orally from one generation to the next, and is still very much alive to him. 

He knows the tale of the four Belanga brothers who immigrated from Italy, landed in South Carolina, and 7 years later settled in Princess Anne County, making their living as farmers and fishermen in the early 1700s.

He can picture the winter storm that churned up the ocean off Virginia's coast in 1887, drowning his great-great-grandfather James Edward Belanga and his brother Abel as they attempted to rescue crew from the stricken German ship Elisabeth. 

Belanga grew up in rural Princess Anne County, on what is now Dam Neck Naval Base. When the military moved in, they headed south to where he still lives and runs Belanga's Seafood, opened by his father in 1949, on what would become Sandbridge Road. Back then, the close-knit community close to the sea was known as Sigma. He remembers how it was when he was young, the cinder block packing shed filled with fish they had caught, packed in ice and covered by blankets with sawdust sewn in for insulation. He recalls the telephone party-line, the kerosene lamps, and how neighbors did for neighbors.

Today, Belanga's Seafood is quiet inside. He still sells local fish in season, shrimp, and some shark in the summer. His younger brother still plants "here, there, and yonder" on the remaining land; the greens are looking good for Thanksgiving this year. Shells, knick knacks, and his wife's glasswork add to the inventory.

Some nights Belanga sits back, closes his eyes, and recalls his favorite memory. He’s a child, it’s Friday afternoon and­ elementary school is out for the weekend.

He quickly changes his clothes, puts his shoes in a bag, and starts walking. Barefoot, he heads east on a dirt road, and after several miles, comes upon the beach. He turns right and ambles south for several more. He finds a treasure or two along the way, and finally reaches his father's fishing camp, at one end of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. 

A boyhood paradise, he would spend the weekend with his father, then journey back on Sunday afternoon. If no one had come down behind him, Belanga would track his own small footprints home. 

Photography and text by Vicki Cronis-Nohe




Posted to: Back Back barefoot Belanga Elisabeth memories Sandbridge Seafood Sigma Virginia Beach

What's Inside: A Steady Hand


 They play games on cellphones, swing their legs, or snuggle with mom to pass the time. Flanked by the House of Prayer on one side and a produce stand on the other, Korey Finney's barbershop has a line of children 8-deep inside.  He cuts hair of all ages, but during the school year, Saturday is their day.

Just like his grandfather, Finney, 26, is a fight fan, so he named his shop Uppa Kutz. Laminated posters of Ali, Tyson, and Frazier decorate his walls. Long before Finney was born, the one-room barbershop was run by Albert Christian, who locals say cut hair for well over 60 years. For as long as anyone can remember, this building in Exmore has been a barbershop.

Like any community shop, the banter between the barber and his regulars is familiar. "How's school been going for you, man," he shoots across to Jordan Belk, 6, the boy giving him a nod from his mother's lap as Finney finesses the fade on another customer. He ushers 4-year-old Vamaj Wise to the chair, putting a metal case holding his clippers under him as a makeshift booster seat. His steady hand doesn't waver as the child wiggles from time to time, although his mother has to still him while Finney edges up the back of his hairline. 

Finney has been running Uppa Kutz for over 5 years, and as a young business owner, is thankful for the support the community has shown him. He grew up in Northampton County, and understands how crucial that backing can be. With support from family, Finney made it to barber school in Pennsylvania, after cutting hair in his mother's kitchen since age 14. 

The appreciation can be seen around his shop - trophies from the softball and basketball teams he sponsors fill a windowsill. Finney throws a back-to-school cookout every year for kids in the community, offering them free food and supplies. Another statuette bears a plaque announcing him as Distinguished Man of the Year at Gaskins Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Most of all, Finney wants to give them a quality haircut, and to continue to do what he loves. "I just want to put a smile on their face and make them feel good about how they look."

Posted to: barbershop boxing community Eastern Shore Exmore Korey Finney Virginia

What's Inside: The Strength of a Sister


The hospital room is dim when Maggie Furco, 10, walks in on a recent Saturday morning. Her sister Abby, 8, is deep in a sleep that her body demands. Get-well banners and birthday cards line a wall inside Abby's room, Halloween decorations hang from the ceiling.

Maggie goes to the side of the bed that is free from the tangle of tubes and cords, and bends over her sister. Abby gives her a sleepy, slightly grumpy hug, and Maggie gives her a kiss. She looks over the new stuffed animals on Abby's bed. "Where'd you get this one from," Maggie asks, as she gently touches her sister's face with it.

Their parents get up to speed on the previous night's events, both at home and the hospital, so Maggie slides into bed with her sister, giving her time to fully wake up. Abby has rare form of leukemia, a cancer that begins in the blood cells, and is being treated at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. Diagnosed at age 4, she underwent treatment from February 2011 to October 2013. The family threw a no-more-chemo street party last fall in their D.C. neighborhood, celebrating her remission. 

A Navy family, the Furcos moved back to Virginia Beach in August. Roughly two weeks into third grade at Red Mill Elementary, Abby relapsed. The school has already had a bone marrow drive and fundraiser in honor of their new student. Bright red Team Abby t-shirts are worn in abundance, in advance of a Light the Night event on November 1st.

 The sisters catch up, too, snuggling under Abby's special pink blanket. Abby smiles as Maggie recounts how their younger sister Emily, 3, was scared of a boy in a skeleton costume at the school's fall festival. They open a gift sent from Maggie's former fourth-grade teacher, a game called Gone Fishin'. It's not obvious, but the first time they play Maggie gives her a few extra fish. The next time, Abby wins outright. 

Maggie knows how to strike the balance of making Abby feel special and treating her like any other big sister would, holding her up and grounding her at the same time. As Abby grows tired, Maggie goes from the board game to Mad Libs, and fills in most of the blanks. 

Soon Abby's had enough, so Maggie follows her lead and just lays with her. "If nothing else, Maggie and Abby have been the first level of support for each other, kind of built-in best friends," says their father Joe, a result of the many military moves the family has undergone. Maggie willingly sacrifices her wants and needs as the family focuses on Abby. She understands that she can't have both parents at home right now, and with poise, goes with the flow of the day.

 After an hour it's time for Maggie's dance rehearsal. The parents make the handoff, and the sisters say goodbye. Abby wraps one arm tight around Maggie's neck for a long moment, and then their very different days continue. 

Photography and text by Vicki Cronis-Nohe


To learn more about Abby: http://www.stbaldricks.org/blog/post/we-had-a-choice-abbys-fight-against-ph-acute-lymphoblastic-leukemia

Light the Night benefits those with Leukemia & Lymphoma. Read more:  http://pages.lightthenight.org/va/VABeach14/TeamAbby

To help those who need bone marrow transplants: bethematch.org to join the National Marrow Registry. Go to the website to sign up to get a swab kit. There will be a drive for Abby at Fort Storage, 2744 Dam Neck Road, Virginia Beach on 11/1/14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.




Posted to: leukemia philadelphia chromosone Portsmouth portsmouth naval hospital sisters st. baldricks Virginia Beach

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