Years and Years

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Hi everyone.  It’s great to see you again.  I thought I would post something in line with the New Year starting today, and I came across this picture which I took on a hike a few months ago.  It was just before sunset, and even though we were underneath some heavy tree cover, the golden light of the sun managed to sneak through and illuminate this felled tree edge on.  It was perfect for seeing all the rings representing the many years it had been growing.  Obviously, the limb was deliberately cut.  I see this often when hiking a few days after a big storm.  This guy probably came out on the loosing end of a heavy wind gust, and came down across the trail.  The park ranger must have cut it up, and left it to the elements.  I’m sure there will be mushrooms all over it next spring.  I tried to count the rings, but found I will need an upgrade on my eyeglass prescription before that happens.  It’s somewhere around 20 or so, I think.  Not exactly a General Sherman Redwood, but no less important in my book.  It had seen a few New Years come and go, sort of like all of us.

For 2016, I want to concentrate on making the work I do count for something.  I want to balance my time properly so work, and leisure activity, each get their fair, and necessary share, of my efforts.  If you like, you can join me in one of my “First 100 Day Plans”.  This year, that is April 9th, because of leap year.  I’ve formulated a few tasks I would like to complete by the 100th day of the year.  Here we go:

  1. Stop drinking Soda…Forever this time
  2. Lose 20 pounds…that’s less than 2 pounds a week
  3. Establish a routine where I hike/photoexplore (my own word) a least 3 times every 2 weeks.
  4. Take this blog to the next level, with more posts and tutorials
  5. Finish reading the Harry Potter series…I’m stuck on Goblet of Fire, and I refuse to watch the movies until I’m done!!

To be fair, I make a separate list for work, but I’m sure you could care less about that, so I’ll leave it out.  What do you say?  April 9th?  Make you own list, and get cracking.  Whatever you choose to do, or not do, have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, and I’ll see you back here soon!

Lazy Day

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The summer is great for so many reasons.  It’s laid back attitude and weather are perfect for outdoor fun, and make it one of my favorite times of the year.  On this particular day, my son and I were doing a little fishin’.  We’re not really hard core fisherman, actually, we’re mostly worm drowners, but we go out from time to time anyway and have a lot of fun.  We practice catch and release because neither of us want to eat anything we catch.  We’re more of the burger and fries variety, but it’s still a lot of fun, and very relaxing, to stare at a bobber for a few hours and be occasionally interrupted by a bite.  Every so often we even catch a fish.  Not a bad way to spend a hot summer day.

Our luck this day however, was running thin, and since we couldn’t manage to catch anything larger than my index finger, I decided to just sit in my chair under this very nice pine tree, and take in the sites.  While my son kept fishing, I started making some photographic compositions in my mind of our surroundings.  Have you ever done that?  Some people even make a relative square with their hands like movie directors in Hollywood do, and evaluate the results.  I’ve read that it’s actually really good practice to do this sort of thing, and if done consistently, can help you compose your real photos better.  My favorite composition came from looking straight up, through the trees where we sat, to the perfectly blue sky above. In fact, I liked it so much, I grabbed my camera, and took this picture.  You know it was a great day of fishing when you come home with pictures…of trees!

Dwindling Light

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I especially like when the sun is low enough in the sky that it just hits the tops of the trees.  The leaves seem to glow in that golden light, and really look great.  If the light reaches the tree bark, as in the case of these pines, the trunks take on a reddish orange color that provides a great contrast against the sky, which is usually turning darker and darker blue as the sun sets lower in the sky.  If you haven’t noticed, trees are one of my favorite subjects to shoot, and believe it or not, I’m especially fond of them when they have dropped some, or all of their leaves.  I love this type of composition, with all the branches splitting off in different directions.  Shooting pictures up through trees is a little rough on the neck, but worth it if you ask me. You’re amply rewarded for your pain, and a little ibuprofen goes a long way once you get home.

On this particular day, the sun was fading fast.  We had hoped to be off the trail by this time, and near a lake shore where we could get some sunset pictures.  Unfortunately,  we were moving to slow and never got there in time.  As a result, this is my sunset picture for the day, and I’m glad for it.  Things don’t always work out as planned, but I guess if you’re having fun with what you’re doing anyway, there’s no harm in it.  As it was, we had a great little hike, and came away with a picture or two for the effort.  All in all, a great day.  I wish you all the best in the coming days.  I hope you are able to get out there and find what inspires you most, and make something great of it.  See you all soon!!!

Early Morning Clouds

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Ahh… back to nature.  After a brief trip to New York with my last post, its back to familiar territory for me.  The truth is I love shooting cityscapes, but I just don’t get to the city enough to do it, and when I am there, my family really isn’t concerned with what time golden hour is.  So as a result, I don’t get much chance to shoot the way I would want to when I’m in that type of environment.  I do have a few more shots from New York to share with you, but for now, it’s back to a more natural setting.  This shot was taken along the banks of the Susquehanna River in Northern Pennsylvania.  I was on a canoe trip down the river, and we were camping overnight along it’s banks.  Sunrise brought a beautiful shade of blue and orange to the sky, and I couldn’t resist getting a shot.  I didn’t have a tripod because we were traveling light, but I managed to get a decent hand held shot anyway.  It was a beautiful weekend, and over the course of our journey, I saw my first Bald Eagle in the wild.  Unfortunately, I have no photos of them to share as I was actively paddling when I saw them, but it was still an amazing site to see.

Today was my first day off since the holiday, and I’m completely messed up on what day it is.  I do know that while there has been some mild and sunny weather around lately, I ‘ve mostly seen it driving to work.  Today, on my day off, it rained.  I know, as a photographer that’s no excuse.  I should have been out there anyway, but it was REALLY raining, so I took a pass.  I guess sometimes even a photographer needs a day off.  Anyway, I wish you all the best and I’ll see you soon.

Fall Reflections

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I was trying to decide what to post today and had a tough time coming to a decision.  Fall is in its last stages here in the northeast, and most of the trees are bare.  The nights are getting cold, and we’ve already had more than a few frosts.  I was debating on putting up something winterish, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Even though it doesn’t really feel like fall anymore, it is definitely not winter yet either.  Although, if I traveled west, there’s about a foot of snow falling as I write this post.  Fortunately, I raked leaves today in a light jacket, and when the snow gets here, I’ll be ready with my camera.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this shot I took at a pond not far from my home.  Honestly, I was hoping for some Great Blue Herons to photograph, but none were to be found.  I guess they were hanging out at another pond that day, but I see plenty of them this time of year.  They seem to stick around a lot longer than the geese.  For lack of a Heron, I found some amazing reflections on the water, and since I had my long lens on my camera, I could isolate some interesting compositions that could almost be considered abstractions.  I know lots of photographers like to take those glassy smooth reflection shots, but you have to get up pretty early in the day for those.   This shot was taken in the late afternoon, so there was no chance of a smooth reflection.  I still loved the contrast between the reflected fall colors, and the green water plants enough to grab a quick shot.  I hope your weather is just perfect wherever you are, and I’ll see ya soon.

Water Fall Relief

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There’s no place better on a hot summer day to take refuge from the heat than a waterfall.  That’s exactly what happened a few months back on a crazy hot day this past summer.  We decided to pack up, and hit the trail.  This place is so cool.  There is a huge lake on top of the mountain, and it cascades down a  five mile slope resulting in close to 40 different waterfalls, some of which are 100 feet (30  meters) high.  The trail has some challenging elevation changes but that’s what gives you these awesome waterfalls, and on this day, some much needed relief from the heat.  If your ever near Red Rock, PA, check it out, it’s Rickets Glenn State Park.  It’s a bit of a drive from my home, but well worth it.  It’s funny because I always knew it was a nice place for photography, but when I started seeing pictures taken there by people from Europe, I was so surprised.  I guess it goes to show you a truth we often ignore in photography, that some of the best shots to be had are practically in your own back yard.  I once believed I could only get amazing shots by traveling somewhere exotic, but not any more.  Rickets Glenn proved that to me.  Challenge yourself to see what you’ve been missing in your own hometown.  Look at it with a strangers eyes and you’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed.

With that said, I’ve included a shot of one of the many waterfalls at Rickets.  I love photographing waterfalls, but I have such a difficult time framing them, or finding the best point of view.  Then there’s the whole, ” to long expose the water or try to freeze it” conflict.  If I made a top 10 list of favorite things to photograph, waterfalls would definitely be in there, but if I made a list of most frustrating subjects I try to photograph, waterfalls would be right near the top.  (I think this just gave me an idea for another post)  Anyway, I hope you like this one, and remember we’re on the downslide to the weekend at this point.  Have a great rest of the week.

Two Speeders

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While this may look like a shot from just last week, since there are no leaves on the trees and it’s looking pretty Fall-ish, I actually shot this last Spring.  It was one of the first nice days outside, and it was finally starting to warm up, so we went for a quick hike through a local park.  The late afternoon sun made for some great light, and the Geese were new arrivals after returning from their defection to the warmer South for the winter.  Actually, they caught me by surprise.  I heard them coming, it wasn’t hard with all the honking,  but they were moving really fast across the water. I only had a split second to snap a picture before they were out of frame again.  I never even brought the camera up to my eye, I just shot from the hip all Western gunslinger style.  I was with a few people and they were quite impressed.   Of course, I’d be lying if I said the image didn’t need a little straightening in Lightroom.  I still can’t believe how fast those geese were moving.  I would have loved to try a panning shot and give a sense of their speed, but there was no time to set up for that.  I think it must be cool to speed across a lake just inches above the water like that.  That’s the way I’d fly if I was a goose.  Have a great weekend everyone.  I know Call of Duty is coming out today, but get out there and take some pictures!!!

Fall Colors, A No Brainer!!

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Wow! The last few weeks here in the Northeast have brought color to a whole new level.  The leaves are all changing, and whatever it is that determines how bright and how varied the colors get, well it happened, and the trees are “on fire”.  Shooting in the fall is a no brainer.  Everywhere you look there are gorgeous pictures waiting to be taken.  It’s like a last gasp of nature before winter replaces all that color with the whites and greys we are so accustomed to here in the north.  There’s plenty of beauty in that as well, you just have to look a bit harder.  For this picture I had just finished some yard work, and the golden hour was in full swing.  So I put the lawn mower away, and went for a walk.   It couldn’t have been more perfect. I really liked how the low angle of the sun was causing the leaves to cast their own shadows on the tree behind them.  It’s funny how I had been planning to take a big hike to get some fall shots;  you know, pack a lunch, put on the Merrells, grab the backpack and such.  Then one of my favorite shots of the season was taken literally along the road in front of my own house. Who knew!!!

I hope your liking the blog so far.  I’m still trying to figure out a few things with the set up and choices.  It’s kind of like moving into a new house and you move the furniture around a bit to see how you like it best.  You can definitely consider this a site under construction, so don’t be surprised if you see some changes.  I hope to mix in some technical content from time to time too.  Let me know what you think.  More to come for sure, see Ya later!!