Natural Virginia Book Cover

Natural Virginia

Panoramic Landscape Photographs by Ben Greenberg




 Selected Writings from Natural Virginia


Virginia Regions



Western Virginia


(The following is the beginning of the Foreword of Natural Virginia prepared by W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr.)  

“Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for
man’s habitation; were it fully manured [cultivated] by industrious people.”

Captain John Smith

The description of Virginia contained in the first clause of this famous journal entry by Captain John Smith is quoted frequently; however, the second clause is almost never added.  Much of the natural beauty that he saw has been compromised, if not destroyed, by the unwise activities of “industrious people.”   And yet, a great deal of that beauty remains intact from the Virginia Coast Reserve, which protects the seaside of the Eastern Shore, to the great National and State Parks that preserve large areas of the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains.

Since the invention of the camera the images created by landscape photographers have motivated the viewers of their art to become activists in the environmental movement.  Indeed, many of the men and women who record in pictures the beauty of open space have themselves become leaders in air, water, and land conservation.  The preservation of the natural world around us is a noble undertaking that will happen only when there is public support from those who, unlike me, do not enjoy the privilege of living on the shores of the tidal Potomac near the Chesapeake Bay or on a mountaintop with a 40-mile view of Mount Rogers.  Their motivation must come in part from books such as Natural Virginia in which Ben Greenberg has shared with us many of his most important photographs that depict the natural beauty of Virginia.

It was my privilege to represent the Northern Neck of Virginia in the House of Delegates from 1982 to 2000.  I also had the honor of serving as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Natural Resources during the administration of Governor Mark Warner from 2002 to 2006. During my early years as a member of the General Assembly I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Greenberg, whose professional responsibilities included the representation of fellow Virginians with a direct interest in matters pending before the legislature. For a decade or more his photographs have been displayed each year in the halls of the General Assembly Building during the annual sessions of the House and Senate.  His name and his photographs are well-known and admired around Capitol Square…………… 


Natural Virginia:  Introduction

(The following is the beginning of the Introduction to Natural Virginia prepared by Deane Dozier)

In the sweeping full-color panoramas of Natural Virginia, photographer Ben Greenberg celebrates the diverse beauty of the state's outdoors—from ancient and venerable mountains through gentle river valleys, farms, and fields to rich marshlands and estuaries and on to the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic.

The book is organized into three sections showcasing the state’s personalities: Tidewater, Piedmont, and Western Virginia. The Tidewater and Piedmont sections each represent a single distinct land form, or physiographic province, whereas the mountainous Western Virginia section includes three physiographic provinces—Appalachian Plateau, Valley and Ridge, and Blue Ridge.

While Natural Virginia is first and foremost a pictorial documentation of Virginia’s extraordinary beauty, it can also serve as a guide, suggesting what to look for and where to go. The photographs are selected to represent Virginia’s tremendous variety of natural habitats and geologic diversity. But the book is also a keepsake, articulating in its images what thousands of words could not say. This collection of photographs is a reminder to us all—whether residents of Virginia or travelers from other places—that what we have is part of who we are. Over the eons, the age-old mountains fashioned by fire and time have become ingrained in our spirits. The brackish marshes stir us and the salty seas run in our veins. The sunny meadows and sheltering woodlands embrace us. The coursing rivers and serene lakes reflect our energy and bring us peace. We protect them because we love them—and because their preservation is key to our own survival.

The Artistry Behind the Images

Armed with a camera, a commitment to dramatic imagery, and more than a dollop of wanderlust, Ben Greenberg has been absorbed for many years with capturing the disparate faces of his home state in pictures. ………………………



(The following is a portion of the Preface to Natural Virginia, prepared by Ben Greenberg)

I am a Virginian.  It is my home and it always has been.  I take great pride in my home state. I treasure its natural beauty and wide range of scenery from the Eastern Shore to the Blue Ridge Mountains, from the highlands of Southwest Virginia to the Great Falls on the Potomac River. I love the environmental diversity of Virginia, the remarkable differences among the three regions of the state found in Natural Virginia – Tidewater, Piedmont and Western Virginia. The panoramic landscape photographs that comprise Natural Virginia celebrate this varied and breathtaking scenery that I have enjoyed capturing in every corner of the Commonwealth throughout the seasons.

In selecting images for the Natural Virginia collection, I am mindful, as I hope you will be too, of the tremendous efforts in the past and present to preserve and protect our environment. I am an environmentalist who fully appreciates the natural world and our responsibility for its care. My commitment is enhanced by my passion for photography, and I hope that Natural Virginia will evoke the same response in others.

We have come a long way in Virginia and the nation in our stewardship of the environment. That journey has been greatly enhanced by the commitment and efforts of the many Virginia organizations whose purpose is to preserve our natural world. I am so proud of the support Natural Virginia has received from the following nine Virginia nonprofit organizations:

The Nature Conservancy
Virginia Chapter – Sierra Club
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Virginia Conservation Network
Keep Virginia Beautiful
Scenic Virginia
Wild Virginia

Yet, there remain serious dangers to our natural environment, dangers we know all too well……………………….


Photographer’s Note

(The following is the beginning of the Photographer’s Note of Natural Virginia prepared by Ben Greenberg.)

In Natural Virginia, my first book, I have sought to express my passion and love for my home state through a collection of panoramic landscape photographs. While it is impossible for any book to reflect all that makes Virginia the remarkably scenic state that it is, I am proud of the extent to which Natural Virginia showcases the depth and diversity of the beauty that means so much to me and all Virginians. 

I seek to create landscape photographs that capture “Mother Nature at her best” with minimal human impact. You won’t find gardens or orchards in this collection. The occasional road, fence, or building may appear, but they are never the reason for the image. Farms are included only within the context of the environment in which they are located. The reason for the image, and its inclusion in Natural Virginia, is always the natural environment and my own response to it.

I had great difficulty deciding whether or not to include the panorama of the Lawn at the University of Virginia in autumn.  The brilliant fall foliage justified its inclusion, as it did for a photograph of Wintergreen, which highlights the mountain’s outstanding fall color rather than the resort development for which the area is known.

I hope you find the same joy I do in the images selected for inclusion in Natural Virginia, and I also hope these panoramas will help provide a greater understanding of our need to protect the natural environment, now and in the future. 


What makes a successful landscape photograph?

The most important element by far is the subject matter. Without it, all the proper shooting techniques in the world creating a sharp photograph with the proper exposure and excellent composition cannot produce a great photograph. Finding a subject with the potential to become a dramatic image depends on recognizing when a scene has the necessary ingredients, including wonderful light. Capturing that photograph depends on being at the right location at the right time. Only when all these elements are present can a landscape photographer create a truly successful image.


Why panoramas?

I have been asked that question many times, and I don’t have a single answer……………


Copyright ©2013-2014 by Ben Greenberg. All rights reserved.