Since growing up between two of the largest cities on the east coast, one being Philadelphia and the other New York, you would think I would be familiar or at the very least comfortable with them. Actually that is the furthest from the truth as I grew up in the pines of south jersey, so visiting anything with more than 2 stories was both illuminating and many times quite confusing. When traveling to the city of choice for this post, “NYC”, I relied on the calm but monotonous one and a half hour ride on a train which would deposit me at Penn Station in Manhattan. This put me right in the center of where my quest to document 4 visits to this urban oasis would be fulfilled.
My first trip took me to lower Manhattan’s financial district. The structures and how the light reflected on them truly fascinated me. Peering up and down the streets and trying to make a connection with my camera was a task that was made easier by one of my guides, meet-up planer/photographer Martin Joffe. He had made special arrangements to shoot inside the “Woolworth” building. When I stepped inside this place, I was immediately sent back in time, where money translated to some of the most opulent decor one could imagine. The juxtaposition of the old to more modern architecture, was eye-opening to say the least.
The next visit to NYC was to shoot in Chinatown and my guide would be street/portrait photographer DC Fahsbender. Imagine the street noise and traffic of a big city combined with the unknown elements of a different country. The signs, language and most of the people being of a different culture, brought my lens to a place, both old and new. While I walked up and down the narrow streets of the many shops, I felt swept along by a current of people. By inviting the culture of this place in, I was able to slow down and click away.
A little further over would take me to the East Village, with its mix of old and new, which was evident from its late 19th century architecture to the present. The hispanic flavor of this part of the city was apparent just by viewing the restaurants and hearing the rhythmic music that echoed down many of the small cross streets. My lens once again gravitated to the people, whether they were engaged in a pickup basketball game or played dominos on the sidewalk.
Last, but not least, would be my trip to the Williamsburg Bridge and its namesake on the other side. Walking across, while overlooking the traffic and parts of the city, was not a sight to be missed. The pace of the people riding bikes and driving over this bridge was perilous at times, unless you stayed on the right side of the yellow line. From the view up high, to the street art down below, this section of town had me using pan blurs and structural composition to express my take on a walk across a busy city bridge.
Upon looking back at my little adventures to the Big Apple, I would not have changed a thing. I met some wonderful people and had great knowledgeable guides to help point which way was uptown or downtown and… which way was home. Although I would not trade where I live, the experience of urban life certainly made my camera happy.
Sakura, in Japanese culture, translates to ‘Cherry Blossom’. This festival was scheduled to happen at a special park in Philadelphia. With my interest and curiosity tweaked, I decided to try and capture it through my lens.
drums beating in time
maidens twirling and frozen
The atmosphere of a festival can be both intoxicating and informative, especially one from a different culture than what I grew up in. Suddenly all that is foreign, becomes a reality into which one can immerse their senses.
bright circular fans
smiles and rhythms flow with pride
a past brought to life
While walking from one end of the park to the other, trying to catch each event can become a challenge, but the subconscious snap of my mind and shutter revealed its own rewards.
the essence in a single pond
zen like images
The aura and satisfaction that a few hours away from home can bring to ones soul helped me develop a more trans-formative outlook on the world… lets pass it forward!!!
Dancing is something I only dream I could pull off, but when utilizing photography, it becomes a different story altogether. By combining inspiration from Lois Greenfield (dance photography), Frank Veronsky (portrait), Denise Ippolito (creative-motion) and some street cred from DC Fahsbender, this has become my second attempt at shooting dancers. To give you a small snippet of what this involves, I would like to break it down for you. The recipe… throw 6 professional dancers into a narrow but high ceiling bowl (room) is key, as they need room to breathe (jump). Next, set up lighting and camera… the camera is very old school, meaning you get only one click before you have to reset the shutter… this is where personal taste and timing come into play. Tether this camera to a computer with a screen to sample (view) the results. As you can see, there are a lot of ingredients that are needed, including the right combination of music, movement and intuition.
Magic seems to happen when you start to feel both the music and a dancer’s interpretation. Timing, and an awareness of what will happen next, is what turns an almost shot into a perfect capture. This capture is what is very hard to connect with, as it only appears in milliseconds. If you could see my out-takes, you would fully understand how fleeting this is. The joy I get, is interacting with the dancers to create that moment. With no background in dance, I have to rely on my quick finger and an eye for composition.
When finished, I am able to open up the captures in my digital darkroom and discover what a dancer’s movements have created. Their forms react to the environment, and with a leap, twist or spin, their human core emits a note that is just as perfect as when played on an instrument. That sound (moment) is caught and then processed to create my own composition. I hope my photographs help you both see and hear the beauty in LIFE’s dance.
Inspiration, whether it be stumbled upon, pushed toward or forced into, can be a powerful motivator. My ever-increasing thirst for improvement led me to discover a photographer named Mike Moats. I was instantly pulled in by his compositions, both found and created, which he called “Tiny Landscapes”. His laid back approach inspired me to look closer when shooting an event in the field and at home.
The next step in my learning how to walk, through this type of photography, came more like a big push… or ‘shove’ towards what was actually in front of me all along. This enlightenment came when I was privileged to attend a solo showing by fellow photographer Pat Worley. Her creative eye on what could be done with flowers, light and most of all one’s take on art, was electrifying, to say the least. Seeing prints blossom from the almost mystical to up close and personal, was the final nudge for me to explore what I had overlooked in the past.
I jumped in with both feet, and a couple of not so gentle hands, by taking a workshop with Denise Ippolito. Two things drew me to this choice… one being the venue, Longwood Gardens, which was a place I had never shot or even visited, and the second being Denise. I knew she had a strong vision of what she liked to create, but what took me by surprise was how impactful this vision would be on my photography. The many teachable moments and discussions she presented, were priceless, as it opened my mind and lens to endless compositions. Denise, Joe and Lou led by example and guidance throughout this venture for me into a secluded, but extensive living environment. Their familiarity with the place, was enriched by them also being outstanding creatives themselves, helped me to find not just the standard shot, but forced me to look further and to think outside of my self-imposed box. The true test of any teacher / leader is not just about their portfolio, but what they can share and inspire in others… Denise is a true teacher.
Having been tripped, pushed and forced to see what others already knew about flower photography… this softening of my ‘edges’ has truly reinforced my mantra of to always be willing to grow and learn, but most of all… create.
All aboard for a blast to the past, a “Trolley Graveyard”. Before embarking on this workshop shoot I had preconceived ideas of what I would encounter, as I had shot old trains in Connecticut about a year back. The venue in CT provided wide open spaces that showcased the trains, along with overgrowth that reached over 6 feet high in many places. After my initial eye-opener to the area, I slowly made my way to the back of the property. You might say it was literally the end of the line, in so many ways, as the tracks ended and the overgrowth was even harder to get through.
I approached this place in a backwards type of planning, for when hiking in and past the trolleys, I would take mental notes on what to shoot on my way back. This proved very rewarding as most of the group started in the front. I could line up wide and distant shots without human ‘ghosts’ walking in and out of my long exposures. The trolleys gave up their past, through patterns of decay and framed windowless panels of the fall, throughout the day. Exploring and creating, while trying not to trip on stumps, played out like a game of where not to step. The overcast day provided the perfect flat light I needed to expose the colors and decomposition found all around me.
When the time came to process these relics of a time well past, I was torn between color and black and white. The colors found at this time of year spotlighted and gave the trolleys an almost peaceful place to rest their rusting bones. When the right image was flipped to B/W, the past came alive… you could hear the sound of bells and metal screeching on tracks… the area seemed to come to life again. When turning back after my trek, I could truly feel that this was their last stop… castaways in the woods but comfortably paired with each other as if to say “we are home… just out of service.“
In the past 2 months I had a very rewarding experience to do some photo shoots with Matt Christopher. Imagine being able to go up into an attic and rummage through books and objects from past eras that you grew up in… that is how it felt to me. The three places I visited below, brought back this deja vu type of experience to me. Looking through the lens and bringing back past life events, seemed very real to me at the time. Each room or object had a story that I hoped could be awakened through my compositions. I divided my visits into three sections that would represent each place visited.
The first was an abandoned slate mine. I had visions of going deep into the earth of the actual mine, only to be slapped back to reality when our guide explained that all the water from the winter flowed down into what looked like a football sized shaft, no tunnels or rails down into the earth… still frozen. The exploring of what was left, provided many vignettes of the past… from machinery and patterns of rust, to the left over slate mine just yards away.
The next chapter, from this ‘blast back to the past’, was found not far from where I live… an old theater in the city. Trying to find parking in an area that has not seen the best of times in quite a while, proved an adventure in itself. What struck me, from the minute I entered, was how colorful this place was. It still had more than enough dirt, dust and cracks to keep me entertained for the rest of the day. The back stage was a favorite of mine, as just looking out to the seats one could easily envision a packed house for the opening night of a movie. Exploring the rooms was a real treat, especially the projection room. ‘Whoa’, did that bring back memories of my being a projectionist back when film was shown on 20 minute reels and you had to switch from one projector to another.
Last in my odyssey of reliving the past, proved to be my most creative… an immense lace company in the middle of a steel town. The sheer size was evident when I was given a map and cell number in order to reach both the guide and our instructor. We were told to buddy up in order to lessen our chances of getting lost…. well 10 minutes in and we were both lost. The many levels and pass-throughs, some blocked and others just passable, proved both exciting and frustrating. To give you an idea of just how large this place is…. it had its own bowling alley and gym, complete with a stage for its workers. Creating in this environment was a joy, from the large open rooms to reflecting pools of perfectly calm water, it seemed to bring back both the echoes and activities of days gone by.
Each of these venues not only let me chronicle my explorations but to also bring back a memory of my past… reawakened through the lens and somehow brought back to life… truly unforgettable on so many levels.
The light that flows openly over…
It accentuates the beauty
Highlights ones’ curves and
Exposes the deep dark crevasses of the soul.
Follow the light…
For it will yield the human form
Bring out a voyeuristic curiosity
Make the luminescence a vulnerable path to our inner vision.
Create a brilliance on the imperfect form…
Let the lens reveal
Let It expose a unique vision
This cold mechanical device has now bonded with the radiance of the
‘Human Landscape’ .
These images were created after shooting the ‘Human Form’ on 3 separate occasions. I guess… “third times a charm”, as the light, models and location proved to be the difference. I would like to thank Frank Veronsky for providing the venue and guidance and to Noah and Jackie for being my canvases for the day.
This is the second post from my visit to Iceland and as always let me know what you think.
My trip out of the country began with a marathon run thru the airport and only ended when I was greeted by my couch when I arrived back at my home. My destination was in Iceland and I found it true to its moniker “Land of Fire and Ice”. Upon viewing it in person, I was very cognizant of what had happened millions of years ago, but with one very important difference… it was now 2013.
The land looked as if it had just cracked open yesterday and this was made more evident by its active volcanoes. I traveled in a 4×4 and van, with a small group of 8 photographers. I had mixed blessings on most of my trip by being with and without rain. The ‘with’ enabled my pictures to develop the drama and contrast needed to expose the real Iceland. The ‘without’ made it much more comfortable moving around and not having to wipe off my lens every minute. Trekking high above the island’s floor, I was presented with the fantastic colors of the highlands in Iceland. The way the browns and greens meshed and melted together, created a wonderful palette in front of me. As I stumbled over frozen lava fields and sweeping views of meadows and mountains, I just sat in the open wilderness and thought how lucky I was.
Throughout my stay, I was able to visit very small hotels that provided exquisite meals made on the premises. The trip took me from the city life in Reykjavik to beaches and miles of mountains and waterfalls. The beaches were covered with black sand and beached ice which took on the look of a grand crystal glass shop stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Finding the right composition amongst the millions of ice formations can be overwhelming to say the least. I traveled by small boat through the ice fields to the birthing place of all these ‘ice cubes’… the glaciers in Jokulsarlon. From the silence of the water to the clicking of shutters I was in my element, creating and seeing what I had only glimpsed at in books and magazines.
I finished up my trip back at a familiar site… waterfalls. Visiting waterfalls can get a little confusing, due to the sheer number of them. This last one Seljalandsfoss was complete with weather challenges… rain, wind and cold. I knew I was not home in 90 degree heat the minute I stepped out of the van. Walking first in front of this grand waterfall to going behind it, was both a challenge and a culmination of my visit to this island of ‘Fire and Ice’. Even though trying to compose in the rain was difficult, the true beauty of this place reached out and embraced me. If I was to mentally file my trip to Iceland, it would be under ‘O’… “Once in a Lifetime”.
PART 1 of 2
We have all heard the phrase but, you have not seen nor felt its literal meaning until you have set foot in this park. What a gem! It is located just a little over an hour north of Las Vegas near a town named Overton. On a map, this park looks very navigable as it has only a couple of main roads in and out. Now that’s on paper, but in reality, the enormity of what it covers can only be experienced by parking your vehicle and actually setting foot on one of many trails. There is Balancing Rock, Elephant Rock, just to name a few of the many more such sedimentary formations. I mention this because I was very happy with my choice of going with an experienced photo guide. Without his insight and direction, our group would have definitely missed many unique and mind-boggling beautiful vistas.
Our sensei for this 2 day adventure was Joe Rossbach. He is a truly gifted photographer who has traveled and explored this park many times. Joe took us down, around and over numerous rocks and paths until we could visualize what he saw. The sky was very dramatic, with rain clouds building in the distance. Waiting like hyenas for their prey to be exposed, we were rewarded with subtle but very specific light. We could just sit and be in awe of the natural beauty that was in front of us all. Our group was guided to a small slot canyon, which I for one, would have never found nor been able to maneuver through.
During the two rewarding days spent on this trip, I was reminded of how special it is to be willing to open one’s visual and personal senses to the not so obvious path. By taking the one less traveled, I learned a very crucial lesson…. don’t just seek out a map but find a time proven reliable guide!!!
There is a special pull about a water environment that keeps me going back. I grew up near the water – canoed and kayaked on it, played and swam in it. Now I create pictures of its reflections, the shore line and in Newport Rhode Island, the sailboats on its choppy waters. The chance to shoot large racing class boats up close and in action, drew me to this outing.
A group of us met at the harbor to really test our skills at taking photographs of these sleek fast sailboats. I would be shooting from a chase boat that bobs and weaves with the rhythm of the race. Just as I had done in the past, when shooting an unfamiliar event, I studied the subtle movements first. I watched the light as my position changed on what seemed a very unstable surface. This was due in part by our smaller chase boat which moved in tandem with the larger ever-changing sailboats. Trying to compose and expose turned out very challenging at first but, once I got my sea legs working, I started to anticipate the movements of these graceful crafts. I relaxed and clicked away. It was amazing to see how much work it took to keep the wind in their sails while speeding toward a distant finish line. The teamwork was at times static and then very frenetic when the right amount of wind turned up the pace of the race.
After the race, I was introduced to the many varieties of boats on the water at any given time. From small and large sailboats, both young and rustic in form, to speed boats and even the immense Queen Mary. The size of the latter can only be really appreciated when at water level from about 20 yards away while staring up and watching the sky disappear. Reaching shore from a long day of shooting and after what seemed an hour, my body and equilibrium started to settle down and become grounded once again. The group was treated to some land shooting of lighthouses and fishermen plying their trade. When the occasional boat would drift by, I felt my pulse quicken while remembering the excitement of the race environment I was exposed to earlier in the day.
Eventually I settled back into my land lubber legs where even the call of the water couldn’t replace a stable surface to work on, create and compose – until the time would come when I would feel its magic pull again.
My last trip for the summer of 2012 was to Banff NP in Alberta, Canada. Like many other parks, both in the US and Canada, this location has been and continues to be shot by some of the best photographers in the world. While I do not include myself in their ranks, I do study the work they produce. I use what I have seen of their photographs, to both guide and inspire my own work. Seeing the light and perspective that these photos captured aides me to focus my vision of this iconic place. Below you will find shots that I felt were from my minds eye, which is not to say I did not take the classic shots. I hope this will help shed some light for others, on what made me create these compositions.
I had seen this first shot many times before. The rocks in front brought my eye into the larger picture so it enabled me to include a foreground element. It solidified a balance and completed the shot for me. The subtle light on both the back mountain and the foreground, do not compete with each other but instead helped finish the story for the viewer.
After a short hike uphill, I could envision the picture I wanted to take. I shot a standard wide angle that included the whole lake and mountains. It had a nice composition but it was still missing that Aha moment. The shot you see above came to me on my walk back.
I kept glancing over my shoulder, watching the light and reflections in the lake. By using a longer lens to flatten the perspective, I then framed the image with the trees. The final piece to this puzzle came when I converted it to B/W.
These next two compositions proved to be very special to me. This was my first time on a glacier. Most are very high up and take a lot of hiking to reach. Often the trek required some really small steps in order to keep from sliding on the ice. I was amazed at how dirty the ice was at the lower levels. It appeared much whiter higher up where there was less movement. To show the expanse and give it a sense of place, I included people in this wide shot. Next, I tried to create flowing abstracts and still not lose the feeling that this was part of the glacier. The curves and a slow shutter helped blur the moving water and made this stand out both in the camera and the final print.
Some days of my trip proved very rewarding. You can go seven days without the perfect sunrise, as I have experienced many times before. One morning I found a very accessible lake just off a main road. The problem was finding the right angle and foreground to match the beautiful sunrise that was quickly forming. The next obstacle was to try and not cause any ripples in this super calm lake as I was just inches from the water. In the final composition I had just the right light on the mountains and the reflection of the clouds.
On the last morning of my trip, I visited a place called Lake Louise. The views of this vista were breath taking and I took the standard shots but it still seemed unfinished until a cloud bank came in. It was just what I needed, my camera eye went into overdrive. The clouds provided the drama element and by turning it into B/W, it sealed the deal and thus ended my trip on a high note.
Through my experience…. always take the standard shots, pictures that come easily, but don’t forget to take a second glance at the scene. It will help you create something different, and often unique…. you may find that iconic shot replaced by an unforgettable and truly original composition.
How do you decide upon a destination? I ask myself that question almost every time I embark on a new shooting adventure. I find the most apprehensive part is just meeting my group for the first time. Our guides (teachers) become the focus during this initial meeting. It is make or break time, and then I find out they both share the same name, Doug. Although the names were similar, what becomes very apparent, is that these two individuals are as unique as the place we are about to shoot in.
The place was “Grand Teton NP” and our two teachers were Doug Johnson and Doug Ness. You know you are in a good place when you are met with a smile and a fantastic sense of humor. Doug and Doug would guide, advise, and lead by example through the next six days. Both had a sense of place and a very personal attachment, having been here many times before. I had signed up with Rocky Mountain School of Photography before, and they should be commended for their choice of instructors.
We divided into groups to make it easier to car pool around the many destinations in the park. My group consisted of Michael and Lisa and can you believe, they were teachers like myself. Our banter between shoots was as wide-ranging as the park itself. Rants about the world, our profession, likes and dislikes flowed like the streams we were about to see. Intimate talks about family and life brought us full circle.
Throughout the days, we visited and revisited sites within the park. Up before sunrise to catch that perfect glow on the Teton mountain peeks. The reflections found at String and Jenny lake were not to be missed. Mormon Row drew us back many times and the experience was as special and distinct as the people around me.
A place can, and usually does, produce a bond that is both exceptional and singular. But what makes this journey special were the bonds, camaraderie and lasting friendships that were cultivated throughout this trip… only unparalleled by the magical beauty of the Grand Tetons.
I’m always looking for new places, experiences and meeting people who enrich my daily routine. But sometimes I simply yearn for the comfort of an old sweatshirt, broken in sneakers and familiar surroundings. Sort of a home away from home. Maine holds that comfort zone for me.
I have attended Maine Media College workshops for many years and still manage to find new ways to view its “nooks and crannies”. The town of Rockport is usually my base of operations and is the perfect respite for just kicking back and contemplating what to shoot next. I have taken classes in everything from, how to shoot with a digital camera to, advanced techniques in adventure photography. In between classes and especially early mornings and evenings, I can experiment with what this place has to offer. Exploring the harbors, people and hidden abstracts keeps me coming back each summer.
The photographs shown here were not taken specifically for class assignments but are the results from the influence of the area and its people. My favorite people to talk to, outside of the workshops, are the vendors. I always tell them where I am from and ask how they found this fantastic place. They almost immediately tell me a little bit about themselves, but more importantly, a story about a town in Maine they grew up in or settled in. This exchange of backgrounds and history resonates inside me and every time I make plans to visit, it expands my horizon while searching for new venues.
From the first mouth-watering bite of a lobster roll, creative imaginings of the children, serene beauty of the seaside communities, to the graceful silhouettes of the boats, and shared moments between friends…. Maine is so much more than that.
Traveling and taking pictures is a rewarding and relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle work of daily life. Finding a place that is different from where I live and grew up was an enticing challenge. I eventually stumbled upon a unique workshop given by a truly gifted photographer, Craig Varjabedian. His business is titled “Eloquent Light”, and after a week, it really lived up to its name. What was unique in this workshop was the fact that I would be living at a place called Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. If the name does not ring a bell… it was Georgia O’Keeffe’s summer residence where she painted many of her landscapes. For me it was a time to forget the east coast and see with new eyes.
I remember finding my living quarters in a cabin up on a small mesa and breathing the air far from my corner of the world. Breathing was an understatement… the ranch is located at 6500 ft. above sea level. For lowlanders, as I was called, this provided a small setback. It took me 2 days to get use to the thinner air as, just walking up and down that small hill to the dinning hall proved a challenge. The reward though was breathtaking, in more ways than one… I was surrounded by sweeping vistas of a land I had only previously seen in books and movies. The light and color, of even the dirt, attracted my camera in all directions. I could not believe how many different shades of red and brown there was in one place. Cliffs that seemed distant at first light became increasingly closer as I extended my free reign of this enchanted place. On a side trip, all the color that I had previously described, vanished. “Plaza Blanca…the White Place” is exactly that. Where most of New Mexico is painted in shades of red, orange and brown, this place was void of color and felt like another planet. Cliffs, pillars and arches were made of the same bright white rock. I could see why many Sci-fy movies were made here. My challenge was to find drama and detail in this illuminated place. After exploring this otherworldly setting for a day, it was time to head back to the ranch.
After dinner on my last night, I headed out into our courtyard to surprisingly find a pitch black night, eloquently accented by a maze of stars. Lights of major cities did not spill over into this area as it does in the east. The blackness actually opened your eyes and mind to the unbelievable beauty of the Universe. Both quiet and tranquil, it was a soul awakening experience that reminded me of where I was…. and made me homesick for where I wanted to be.
Old, useless, discarded… these words could be used to describe people or things. As I would never like to describe people in that sense, I will be describing things as in trains, trolleys and buses. They had seen better times and have been discarded to make way for newer models. To me this graveyard of useless vehicles became my treasure.
I was invited to shoot at “Shore Line Trolley Museum” in East Haven,CT, by two very creative professional photographers, Roman Kurywczak and Susan Candelario. We were there to shoot trains, some of them restored and others left to be worked on another day. While shooting, I quickly became entranced by all the discarded heaps of metal. They seemed to ooze with history. The rust and decay became enticing abstracts. You could envision the memories of days gone by. Other shots transformed their past into an “Old is the new NEW”
There is comfort in the past, some would say we should have a greater appreciation of it. Old is not useless, for these trolleys and buses their time is now. I believe the past can give us a sense of stability. You can feel this as you walk between each of these relics. When I began, I didn’t know where I would end up. This is so true with my photography…. I began with one preconceived idea, and after arriving, this sense of place and of times gone, but not forgotten, transformed my vision into timeless treasures.
Click…click…click, that is my camera’s heartbeat.
Step…twirl…leap, can you hear the dancer’s feet.
Movement forever frozen by the click of a shutter.
Flow and expression released in a flutter.
Click… the rhythmic forms are created.
Captured and released, never anticipated.
Click …click…click, that is my heartbeat.
The focus of a moment gives way to the subtle
but unmistakable, mechanical … click.
Playful, sensual, moody…click… I feel the beat.
A visual and kinetic form become one,
it is my dance now.
CLICK…. the heartbeat of the photographer’s dance.
I had one of the more peaceful rides to a ferry from across to . The island of Chincoteague,VA came just before the and was my destination for this trip. The refuge is home to wild horses, and many other species. is a meeting point for many and would be my starting point for a surprising photographic opportunity.that I have ever experienced. The road to Chincoteague started in and ended in , by way of a
The three days spent here were filled with history and the zen like solitude of a personal retreat. I never have had the patience to shoot birds… until now. The presence of many herons in one place was astounding. Trying to capture them hunting and flying, was all timing and being in the right place at the right time. Horses however, drifted in and out of reach the entire trip.
Two great sunrises and a very windy finish on the beach sealed the deal. There is something about a beautiful sunrise that puts my mind and body as one with nature. The brief wait for light to finally illuminate the horizon can be euphoric. Hearing waves break during a sunrise just adds a beautiful soundtrack to the whole process. Walking along the beach on my final day as the wind picked up, you could see the rhythmic natural patterns emerge from the sand. The tiny particles would build up on one side of an object and fall away on the other. But just as the birds had to eventually leave, I too, refreshed and re-energized, had to make my migration back home.
The opportunity to take pictures sometimes can be both thought-provoking and time sensitive. I very rarely turn down an invite. Pat Worley, the SJCC’s trips coordinator, was told about a possible field trip to the Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford,NJ. Pat, being the organizational wiz she is, set a date and 19 of us participated.
I quickly found myself immersed in the background of the refuge and its inhabitants. Cedar Run takes in injured and abandoned wildlife. Their goal is to rehabilitate the hurt creatures and return them to the wild. Many times the animals cannot be returned because of severe enough injuries that would keep them from fending for themselves.
Our group split and took turns shooting the different species that were available. When viewing them through my lens, I found myself captivated by their gaze. I tried different angles to get that special composition that would spotlight the subject. This isolation proved to be just what I was looking for. You can truly form both an appreciation and attachment to the subject and its surroundings.
Upon returning home to start the editing and developing process, I thought of the other photographers and what they were seeing. I then chose to transform my images into variations of the same picture. From black and white to HDR and even a sketch and watercolor finish, this metamorphosis from one image to another brought me back to the live animal I found originally staring at me through the lens. I felt reinvigorated by seeing different takes of the same subject.
See which one moves you, and touches your soul… it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.
The slideshow below shows the transitions of each subject. To stop the slides… just click the arrows.
Autumn or fall, whatever your word of choice, it’s the time for nature’s colorful explosion. With this comes an expectation of change. The drop in temperature and the shift in time, signal the season. Fall can be very subtle, to outright in your face bursting with color. To further explore this new season, I traveled to the Canaan Valley of West Virginia at Blackwater Falls State Park. I was there on a photographic workshop run by Joe Rossbach and Alex Mody, two very creatively gifted and knowledgeable photographers. With their guidance and insight to the best that this area had to offer, I was off to find my own take on autumn’s splendor.
I was greeted by waterfalls with swirling eddies, to sweeping vistas of color that were back-lit by overwhelmingly beautiful sunrises. This was by far the most stimulating environment I had visited in hopes of capturing the seasons glow. Morning mist presented a new visual experience for fall color, and I had to embrace a more subtle composition. With so many different hues, at times I was a bit hard pressed to separate the luminosity and create a unique vision of this time of the year.
The endless color combinations that stood out challenged my sense of place. But in the end, a true understanding of how the seasons change, came into focus. Front and center, far and wide, subtle and bursting, this autumn’s show proved to be both inspirational and a visual moment for me. Thanks to mother nature, I can once again view life thru my new ‘rose colored’ glasses.
Visiting the Adirondacks in the summer, turned out to be just the ticket to escape the sweltering heat and humidity of south Jersey. Canoe Photo Trip- I liked the sound of all three of those words. The tour I chose was given by the Adirondack Photographic Institute, which I highly recommend for photo workshops and tours. Mark Bowie was our designated photographer and Griz Caudle enriched us with his knowledge on the local lakes.
I arrived in Saranac Lake,NY a little early, in order to get the lay of the land and locate some of the main roads to Tupper Lake,our base camp. The workshop met at St.Regis Canoe Outfitters, very early on the first day, in order to capture a sunrise shoot. Griz gave us tips on the hows and whys of canoe handling after which, we were off. All around me, the quiet stillness of the lake was mesmerizing. I tried to take it all in, while many in our group paddled to either the right or left in the lake. I stayed in the middle, and a little behind, so as to get some human elements into my scenes. How hard could this be I thought, well, I soon found out. It didn’t take long before I became frustrated by the movement of the canoe and the contrast between a very bright sky and deep shadows. After taking a couple of deep breaths and relaxing, I soon found my center. This rhythmic movement, that I at first tried to fight, in a short time became my ally. I would wait for the canoe to move my eye into the picture. As for the bright sky… well I started to use it in a graphical way, as I composed my shots.
When just floating and not shooting we were both entertained and informed about our surroundings. Griz’s banter was priceless. We only needed our “translator” Mark, a few times as our guide’s dialogue became clearer. I think as a collective group we started to become pleasantly cohesive. For me, Mark was the consummate teacher. He had the patience to wait for stragglers… me. He also brought and shared, throughout our paddling, the technical advice he developed from years of shooting this little piece of heaven.
That night, and the following morning, we paddled and shot and talked and shot some more. When I say, “do you canoe?”, I can only speak for myself. I do, and you should too, BUT don’t forget the password –DEET!
With a park this big I just had to add this second post. You will also find links to the places in ONP that I visited … enjoy. Olympic NP, Rialto Beach, Second Beach, Ruby Beach, Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Rainforest, Hoh Rainforest, Port Angeles, Forks. Link to original post.
When I prepare to go on a photo workshop, a lot of things pop into my head. Foremost for me, it is about putting my trust into the hands of almost complete strangers. These instructors hopefully will embrace and nurture this trust. They will not only be my guide and compass but, also teach by example. When far from civilization they have to become my sole “go to” medical guys, and more important, social workers to a bunch of seemingly needy adults. Being a weather predictor, with a little help from the gods, is also an excellent work related skill, although I for one would probably pay extra for the latter.
The three faces of Olympic NP that I encountered on my photo trip with Joe Rossbach and Ian Plant… two of the best social workers (a.k.a.photographers) in the business… were the beach,mountains and rainforest. ONP was so diverse from parks I had visited in the past that, it was easy to get distracted. I learned early on if you keep an open mind and invest 100% of yourself, the returns can be very rewarding.
My biggest obstacle I thought, upon viewing photos from the park, was the rainforest. At first sight, the word, busy and chaotic came to mind. But after immersing myself in the many different floras and types of vegetation, I found I could make sense of the patterns and rhythms of this seemingly prehistoric landscape. I am still amazed and impressed by how this environment can mold maple trees into curved frames for photo compositions. Getting around and setting up equipment can be a challenge. The end product, when you press the shutter, is instant. Seeing your creation on the screen, you can almost forget the “rain” in rainforest.
The next face in this trilogy was the mountains. Luckily we were able to drive up to Hurricane Ridge, which by its name is indicative of wind,rain and unpredictable weather. Here is where the “weather gods”, and my willingness to pay extra comes to mind. My ascent was met with, dare I say again, “rain” and clouds. But as we reached the peak, the rewards for waiting were jaw dropping. Clouds were now above and below in the valley. The sun broke through and painted the peaks in golds and rust. I could not stop taking photos. When I did pause, the beauty was breathtaking. My final parting shot, while driving down the pass, was a small black bear that was feeding on the hillside. Future note to self… make sure not to block a bear’s exit when he wants to cross the road!
The third face in this journey was “the beaches”. Our group saw many beaches,from the easily accessible to the more rugged and somewhat challenging. Sea stacks and more sea stacks came in every shape and size. Some were hidden in shadows and mist, only to be revealed by long exposures. Others presented gaps and holes to let rays of the setting sun come through. I found out early on that, tides control access to these wondrous places. The tides also can hamper a quick exit. Tidal pools were deceptively inviting. While many starfish and anemones invited us to come closer, they remained protected by very slippery and jagged rocks.
There was a final face to this journey. It was the transition of a complete stranger who, by the end, became a true companion. I was blessed to be partnered with someone who I could exchange ideas,thoughts and creative visions. Someone whose voice and face will resonate with me throughout my future journeys. What adventure wouldn’t be more enriched than one that is blessed by the face of true friendship.
Link to Olympic pt.2.
In this gallery set I wanted to showcase a different spin on my experience in Cody,Wyoming. I was able to venture out-of-town and shoot wild mustangs who roam on protected unfenced land. You will also see some BW,sepia and even a little painted in flavor. To view the main post click here.