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!

Niagara Falls

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Hi everyone!  I’m back with another travel posting today.  This is from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, where my family and I spent a few days last summer.  We had a great time walking around the falls, and taking in the Canadian side of things.  It was also a sort of homecoming for my wife and I, as this was the sight of our first date back in 1988.  It was neat to walk around again, and see what had changed, what hadn’t, and been able now to share it with the Kiddos, who thought the whole notion of their parents dating was just too gross.  On this particular evening, we were up on a huge observation deck called the Skylon Tower.  I’m not sure how tall it is, but it offered spectacular views in every direction.  This particular view is facing south, back toward the US, and the city of Niagara Falls, NY.  It was blue hour while we were up there, and light was fading fast.  They were super cool about my camera at the tower, but the tripod did not make the trip up, so this was hand held.  I braced the camera against the grid work of fencing that encloses the deck to keep it from shaking, but the image is a bit soft if you zoom in.  Beyond the American falls are the lights of the downtown, and as with every blue hour, the lights had come on to accent the landscape itself.  That’s why its’s one of my favorite times to shoot. In the evenings, the falls are illuminated with some incredibly strong lights which change color.  Personally, I would have preferred all white brilliance to the disco theme multicolor, but that’s just me.

Oh by the way!  Happy Winter everyone.  Today is the first day of winter, and the longest night of the year.  Too bad it’s going to be 65 degrees (18C) here on Christmas, and the snow forecasted for this past weekend was a no show.  Things are still looking a bit green around here, but I figured I would go with the season and change my header image anyway.  I’ll talk more about them (current and previous)  in a future post.  Until then, keep warm if you have to, and have a great week.

You Can Learn A Lot from A Simple Daisy

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I hope everyone is having a great week.  It’s been a crazy one for me, and I’m just counting the days until the weekend.  I decided to share a simple picture today.  Just a single daisy from the summer.  Actually, this picture is a well cropped version of the original, but I still had enough info in the original to get a decent picture for my efforts. I don’t think it would print too big, but it looks good for the screen.  Hopefully, by next summer, I’ll have a macro lens to avoid that problem.

This picture is the unplanned result of a brief rain shower that left a few water drops on the flower petals.  It was strange because as soon as I noticed them, I realized it was something I wanted to photograph, but I wasn’t all to sure I wanted to put the effort in to the process.  I knew that to do it right, I would need my tripod, and possibly some reflectors, and at the time it seemed like an awful lot of effort that I wasn’t entirely committed to.  However, on the other side of the coin was the possibility of some really nice pictures, and gaining a little experience with a new subject.  I kept going back and forth, and as time went by, those drops on the petals kept calling out to me.  In the end, it was sort of like that guy in Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Tell-Tale Heart, it just got to be too much, and I eventually ran inside for my camera.  I simply couldn’t stand the thought of potentially missing the opportunity for a picture.  Actually, I had a great time trying all kinds of compositions with a few different lenses, and was glad I decided to make the effort.   I just goes to show you that sometimes the biggest problem isn’t what you think it is, but it’s actually just thinking too much instead of doing.  Anyway, I hope you like the shot.  Have a great day, and I’ll see ya all soon!

A Rainbow of Leaves

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Do you like what I did there?  A rainbow of leaves?  It’s true.  If you look hard enough, and use your imagination just a little, you can see the entire ROY G BIV we all once learned about in science class.  Of course,  they were talking about rainbows there, and these leaves are not rainbows, but hopefully you see the artistic slant in all this.  People who see this bush, which has grown in my front yard for the last 20 years, are amazed by what it does in the fall.  Eventually, the leaves will all go to a bright yellow, but they don’t drop.  They just slowly loose their color, and get really thick for the winter.  The cool thing is that they progress through all these different colors first, and almost never in unison, so you wind up with this bizarre looking plant.  I can’t account for the flower in this picture, beyond the fact that it has been unseasonably mild this fall, and perhaps this poor guy got his seasons mixed up.  Sometimes people see one of my pictures of this bush and assume I’ve photoshopped the colors.  That sort of drives me nuts.  I’ll admit to using photoshop, but I don’t manufacture false images unless they are obviously so.  I’m more of the subtle enhancement kind of guy, and almost every picture gets a vignette.

For this picture, I got most of my bang out of the contrast slider in lightroom, and I did make the jump to photoshop for some sharpening, and curves adjustments in the channels.  Back in lightroom, I applied some more sharpening (not sure why) and I’ll admit hitting the vibrance slider a bit, but the base colors are all genuine;  I promise.  Fall continues to progress here in the northeast, but we continue to enjoy a mild run of days.  We have not seen a snow yet that has stuck, and by that I mean accumulate, or at least not melt on contact with the ground.  This has the skiers pulling their hair out, but most everyone else is pretty ok with it.  There have been some heavy frosts lately, and I’ve been fortunate enough to put a few hours together to get out and grab some shots of the frosty landscape.  I look forward to sharing them with you soon.  Have a great day!!!

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.

Corn Maze for Days

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In the fall, it’s a right of passage to explore a corn maze.  I actually don’t know if that’s just around where I live, or if that’s a thing everywhere.  Basically, once the corn has been harvested, the farmer cuts paths into the field, and charges people money to waste the better part of an afternoon trying to find their way through the darn thing.  Trust me on this, there is no worse feeling than stumbling along in one of these things, and finally seeing the exit…only to realize it’s the entrance!!  This was a hard core maze too, so if that happens, they won’t let you out.  They tell you to turn around, and find the real exit.  Imagine getting paid to do that job!!  This corn maze was huge.  It actually had an area cleared out in the center of it with a refreshment stand, complete with picnic tables, and a full menu of junk food.  People were just standing around, eating Hot Dogs, and comparing notes on the best course to take, but the truth was…no one really knew what they were talking about.

For this picture, my daughter and I stumbled upon a look out tower you can climb to see the maze from above; and hopefully find your way out.  As you can see, the light was fading fast, and I fortunately had my D810 with me to grab a quick sunset shot.  I love the lens flare!  I suppose I could have removed it in post, but if your shooting into the sun, that’s the sort of thing you get.  It’s kind of ironic that camera companies put all this technology into special coatings and such to reduce lens flare, and then photoshop actually puts a filter setting into it’s menu to add flare back in.  Anyway, this lens flare is 100% the real deal.  I actually didn’t plan it that way, but I consider it a happy accident. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no they don’t care if it’s dark and your still in the maze.  I did, but they did not.

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.

Now That’s a Load of Hay

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I happened to be driving down the road when I noticed these haystacks, and they were too good to pass by without a picture, or two, or fifty.  It was the middle of the day, which is hardly the light you want to shoot anything, but you get what you get as they say.  I was further frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get the compositions I wanted since I didn’t have permission to go on the farmer’s land.  So, I walked up and down the road a few times trying to get a larger global picture of this amazing site.  I did like the way the light was so patchy, and the big puffy clouds, although that gave me quite a challenge for proper exposure.  I pictured the farmer looking out his window at me while I was doing this and calling out to his wife, “Hey Honey, there’s another one of those photographers taking pictures of my hay!!  What an idiot!!”

Overall, I wasn’t sure about posting this picture.  I like it, but my confidence was not at 100% that it was good enough for the blog.  Ultimately, I slept on it, and decided to go ahead.  A few months ago I was doing the same thing about even starting the blog, but here I am.  A few inspirational reads, and I got past it.  Lack of confidence, and the fear it breeds, can be a paralyzing force.  Some of this is a good thing which helps keep us safe, but too much of it causes us to settle, and stunts our growth.  If you can channel that energy into something positive, and put the fear behind you so it no longer controls you; you’ll be a better person for the experience.   So whether you “know the triumph of high achievement or fail while daring grealty”, you move forward, and that’s the important thing.  I guess that’s true for everything in life not just photography.  Have a great day.

Keep Back!!

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So…what do you suppose is going on here?  I love telephone poles.  They’re like snow flakes in that no two are ever alike.  This one is thankfully NOT anywhere near my  house.  All these crazy wires, and what do you think those red things are?  Whichever utility company is in charge of this thing,  has it’s hands full.  I got nervous just waking under it.  It looks like a four alarm fire waiting to happen, but I couldn’t resist snapping a picture as I walked by.  It was face on to the sun, and really seemed to stand out against the blue sky. It’s apparent age seems pretty obvious.  Probably because no one wants to go near it to do an upgrade.

Anyway, I hope you like the shot.  I thought I would throw in a non-nature picture for a change.  I do love natural landscapes, but you’ll see a few travel and urban shots soon enough.  Today marks only 2 weeks for this young blog which still has so much more in the planning stage than in actual execution, but I wanted to take a moment and say “Hi” and “Thank You” to all who have subscribed and visited.  I can hardly believe the response with views from over a dozen countries on five continents and counting.  Queue the old adage on the  “Power of the Internet”!!  The ultimate goal of this blog was to begin sharing my images with the world, and connect with those who find the same passion about photography and life as I.  It has been very heartening to begin the realization of that dream over the past two weeks.  So see y’all soon!!