\" />

Sunrise at Juno Pier

One of the nice things about doing art shows in Florida is being able to get out early for sunrise and not freeze. I headed to Juno Pier this morning hoping to get some good clouds at sunrise. I wasn’t disappointed. I had hoped to go at 3 a.m. to catch the Milky Way over the pier but it was cloudy when I got up. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and by then many of the clouds had cleared away.

The crescent moon was shining bright when I got there before any light was in the sky. As the sky filled with color the became less distinguishable and by the time the sun cleared the horizon, the moon was barely visible.

Posted in Photo adventure, Scenic Tagged , , , , , , |

Lot’s of snow for Vermont Winter Photography Workshop

Today was the last day for this year’s Vermont Winter Photography Workshop. The weather was good, there is lots of snow on the ground and we had a great group of eight people. They came from all over, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We were prepared for the cold, so it didn’t feel like 15 degrees during the day.

We hit many locations during the three days, farms, covered bridges, towns, rural scenes and a couple of real Vermont country stores. Several of the group hadn’t walked on a lake before, so going out on Silver Lake to see people ice fishing was a bit of an adventure.

I always know it was a good shoot when my SUV is a filthy mess. After our breakfast stop this morning, I was surprised to see a lovely note scratched on my back window. Thanks gang.

Posted in Classes & Workshops, Photo adventure Tagged , , , , |

Birch trees always capture my imagination

My love affair with birch trees continues. There is a fairly large grove about 15 minutes away from my Vermont house and I love wandering around there. It has a magical look to it no matter when I go.

Today I was there before sunrise hoping to get the rising sun shooting through the trees. When the sun came up, it glowed for a couple of minutes and then went behind a large cloud. I could see it would come out again so I tried several shots while waiting to see how the snow, trees and sky would look once the sun was shining again.

As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. The long shadows in the snow and deep blue sky highlighted the white bark and made for beautiful images. There must be 250 trees in the grove and today I noticed a couple of crooked ones shooting skyward. I like the shape they make and worked to get an angle that would highlight them. I’m pretty happy with the shot.

Posted in Photo adventure, Scenic Tagged , , , , , |

Goodbye to a great friend

One of my best friends succumbed to the ravages of cancer yesterday. Sophie was our eight-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog who thought she was two years old – until nine days ago when she became lethargic and wouldn’t eat. One of her many nicknames was Chubby, so not eating was a sign there was a major problem. We ran her to the vet and it turned out she had cancer. She declined rapidly and yesterday her liver shut down and she was done.

Sophie was a constant joy, my wife Robin always said Sophie was exuberant. Going from one side of the room to the other meant bounding, not walking. She always wanted to have a stuffed toy in her mouth. Her first one was a monkey, so after that she responded to any toy as her monkey. When she was trying to lick my face, I’d tell her to get her monkey, she’d run off and find a toy and bring it back and was then ready to lick again.

Anytime I needed a smile, all I had to do was say “Hey Sophie” and 80 pounds of dog would bounce over and the Sophie circus act would begin. She loved to sit on my foot and lean against me waiting to be petting, it is a Bernese Mountain Dog trait, but she took it to the next level. Sophie was always a puppy, she got bigger but always had an incredible innocence and love for life.

Sophie lived up to her Swiss heritage and loved the snow. She would run out in it, bounce around, eat it and plop in the deepest show she could find. In the summer it would be hard to get her out of the house, but she was in her glory in the winter. It was hard to get her to come in when the snow was deep.

She loved sitting on the couch with us as we watched TV. She didn’t lay on the couch, she sat. Right between Robin and me. She sat with her back resting on the back of the couch just like us. She’d wave her front paws around and try to get our attention. If we didn’t look at her to her she’d get frustrated and try some boxing. If that didn’t get sufficient attention she’d groan and growl until we looked at her. Most times she’d then look away and peek at us out of the corner of her eye. I’d blow on her when she was looking at Robin and she’d moan with frustration because I looked away before she spun around to look me. The game would last for a while until she would pounce on one of us demanding to be petted. But if a dog was on the TV, the game was paused while she watched and made little whines. One day she hopped off the couch and ran over to look behind the TV for the dog and looked puzzled when she couldn’t find it. After the dogs were off the screen, it was back to our peek a boo game.

Most mornings while I was in the shower Sophie and our other Berner Zian would be downstairs waiting for dogs to walk past the house. Sophie would start a high pitched howl and Zian would join in. Their longest song I recorded was 90 seconds, but they frequently sang longer than that.

It is going to be a quiet house now and we will miss her for a long time. We may someday get another dog but Sophie will never be replaced.

Posted in My life

Shoot fun macro photos when stuck indoors

I like macro photography, getting up close and taking a different look at things. Today was my second macro photography workshop this month and it was a lot of fun, as usual.

I start off with a presentation and then set up five studio situations that anyone can do it at home. It is a great way to keep the skills sharp and have fun when you don’t feel like going out and fighting the weather.

I like putting a lemon in a glass and adding seltzer or mixing oil and water and seeing how it looks up close.

One of my favorite shots is putting glycerin on plexiglass and putting objects underneath and shooting the refraction. Peanut M&Ms are my favorite candy to eat and photograph, the colors are very cool.

Posted in Classes & Workshops Tagged , , |

Unexpected sighting while on a Florida beach

I went to a Ft. Meyers beach for sunrise today that is more populated by wildlife than people. There are lots of better beaches for sunbathers, so the only people that come to Bunches Beach are there to either walk, look at birds or photograph birds. Today there was a large group of bird watchers carrying binoculars and scopes, wearing their bird watching clothes and their boots. Which means they were going to mess up a lot of photos.

So I went the other direction on the beach. There weren’t as many birds and no people, but one great blue heron was working the surf to get a fish. Herons are one of my favorite birds to photograph. Their long necks make great shapes, it is either curled back as they relax or it gets taught when they have prey in sight. My heron today was standing in shallow water as small waves rolled in on. It didn’t move a whole lot so I tried lots of different shots, using different composition and placement of the bird in the photos. I decided to try some very slow shutter speed to see if I could get a unique effect blurring the incoming waves.

The heron had caught a good size fish was standing pretty still so I knew it would be sharp and the blurry water surrounded it. Of course, as soon as I make lots of setting changes the heron kind of turned around and a bald eagle came out of nowhere and stole the fish from the heron’s mouth. I was a bit dumbfounded knowing I didn’t have time to change camera settings and fired the camera anyway knowing that anything moving would be a blur even though the eagle was moving fast. I got cool wave effects but the two birds look like blurry blobs. It was fun knowing I was the only person to witness nature at its peak.

Posted in Animals, Humorous, Photo adventure Tagged , , , , , |

Watching willets at Ding Darling

I love the name Ding Darling, it is a National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s Sanibel Island and a great place for people to observe birds. I was named after a cartoonist who was instrumental in wildlife conservation in the early 1900’s and helped initiate the duck stamp program. The park has a four mile long Wildlife Drive where you can walk, bicycle or slowly drive your car and see wildlife in its natural habitat. I’ve been there several times and it always has something going on. The park claims to have 230 bird varieties visit and I think there are that many types of photographers too. The nice thing is it is easy to drive your car and not have to carry a ton of gear long distances.

This morning I found this group of willets. I’m not a birder and I can’t name a lot of birds, so I had to look this one up. They were fun to watch, they would come to attention as a group and they start milling around looking for food. I tried a long exposure to show some of their movement and I think it worked pretty well.

Posted in Animals, Photo adventure Tagged , , |

My favorite photos from 2016

For a lot of reasons, it is good to have 2016 behind us. It was a tumultuous year for me professionally but it provided me with many opportunities and adventures. I’m lucky to have a great friend, Edgar Monzon, in Guatemala who hosted a workshop there with me. I was honored to visit his country. I got to tour Tuscany with new friend Ron Lake while we did a workshop there. My art shows went well all summer as I traveled from Virginia Beach to the Hamptons, Connecticut and Vermont and I made my first venture into Florida’s shows, with many more there this winter.

As I look back at 2016, I am grateful to be married to such a wonderful person. Thanks for all the support Robin.

Enjoy the photos.

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Winter Solstice

I drove 150 miles today around Vermont making pictures on a beautiful day – the first official day of winter. I didn’t hear too many people talking about it but they were pretty happy that the temperature got above freezing and it was sunny in some areas. People were out enjoying the day, I went to a couple of the big ski areas and they were pretty busy for a Wednesday in December. There is a good base of natural snow and the weather is perfect for making snow. It should be a good week for them as the new year approaches.

I stopped at Moss Glen Falls in Granville to see how it was looking. It has been very cold here and the falls was nearly completely frozen over. There were a couple of spots you could see water flowing but it didn’t make for a good photo. I put on my big snow boots and wandered into a little brook that runs along the road in front of the falls. I always love seeing how flowing water makes unique designs of ice, especially where it lightly splashes to make weird shapes and then carves into it.

I think Winter Solstice should be a holiday and many Vermonters would agree with me.

On the way home I heard a guy on satellite radio say the best thing about this being the first day of winter is that spring will soon be here. He wasn’t from Vermont.

Posted in Photo adventure Tagged , , |

Greenery is the 2017 color of the year

Birch in Grass

I love the bright greens of spring, so it was fun to see that Pantone announced their 2017 color of the year is a bright green they call Greenery. I shoot a lot of pictures of trees and especially love the transitional color of spring. The photo above was taken in Maine’s Acadia National Park in the spring and the grass’s color is about the same as Pantone’s Greenery.

Pantone Color Institute Logo

In Pantone’s announcement of their color selection they wrote: Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world.

I have to say I hadn’t thought much about how the colors of nature work together, but it strikes me that green really is nature’s neutral. People are attracted to the bright colors of nature, even leaves. The bright foliage of Vermont’s autumn gets tourists from all over the world, once the green is gone. Travelers swarm to Holland to see spring’s tulips. Rose gardens are everywhere showing off their bright colors.

Ferns in Woodstock, Vermont

Ferns in Woodstock, Vermont

But people don’t think about the beauty of green, maybe because it is everywhere. I find that I don’t photograph green much once summer sets in and the greens become darker. The leaves on trees become similar in color and I have a hard time seeing something new when I’m in the forest during the depths of summer. I tend to look for ferns at that time of year, their greens vary and stay brighter until the first hard frost of fall.

Green’s unity hadn’t entered my consciousness the way it did someone at Pantone. I guess I’m not that deep of a thinker, I just react to the beauty I see around me and then do my deep thinking in finding a way to photograph what I am seeing in a way that translates in a big print.

Now that Pantone says Greenery has been pulled to the forefront, I hope that others enjoy the green in 2017 as much as I do.

Posted in Scenic Tagged , , |

John Glenn was a true American hero

johnglennWe lost one of the American great ones today – John Glenn. He was the first American to orbit the earth and the oldest man in space after going up in the Space Shuttle at age 77.  He was a Marine fighter pilot flying 149 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War and was known as “Old Magnet Ass” because his plane was shot so many times and he kept it flying. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.

To be a hero you have to be willing to sacrifice your life in a way that will benefit others. Hero gets tossed around too much, people many times do the right thing but if they don’t put their life on the line, they ain’t a hero. I heard a dog called a hero this week because it bit someone attacking its owner.

But Glenn was a hero, many times over. And a good guy.

He was a Senator from Ohio when I lived there in the ’80s and ran for President in 1984. I worked for a small daily newspaper and even though our circulation area was 50 miles from where Glenn lived, it was such a big story that we covered his presidential announcement. We were an afternoon paper and the event was scheduled for late morning, which meant we had time to get a story in that day’s paper and an AP photo. I talked the editor into sending me and I promised I have a print ready by noon from a 10 a.m. event that was 90 minutes away.

These were the days of film and we didn’t have a transmitter, so the only way the get the picture in the paper was to develop the film during the 90 minute drive back to Marietta. I arranged to use the newspaper’s circulation van and got one of their people to be my driver. I set up a film darkroom in the back of the utility van, I had a changing bag to load my film into a developing tank, the proper chemicals and rinse. I was ready. Continue reading »

Posted in My life, Photo adventure Tagged |

A fun weekend of photographing eagles

c54i5565I took my Meetup.com groups to Conowingo Dam in Darlington, MD, for a fun weekend of photographing bald eagles. The eagles gather at the dam to grab stunned fish that come through the generators. There are eagles that live in the area and many migrate south as it gets colder up north. At one point I counted 89 eagles sitting on the bank across the river and there were many more on an island and our side of the river.

Eagles sit in trees along the bank and then swoop down and grab fish out of the water. Then many times other eagles try to steal the fish and aerial battles ensue.

There are probably more photographers than eagles, it is an amazing the amount of big lenses in use. Canon Pro Services brought a ton of equipment for us to use. A special thanks goes to Tony Kurdzuk of Canon for bringing the equipment and helping our people with their photos. Also thanks to Paul Fishkin who provided us with Benro and Induro tripods and heads.

Posted in Animals, My life, Photo adventure Tagged , , , , |

Canon’s 11-24mm zoom is an incredible lens

wide sunsetToday I got to play with Canon’s newest wide angle marvel, the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens. I’m hosting my Meetup groups in Havre de Grace, MD, and we photographed the bald eagles at Conowingo dam this morning. Canon pro rep Tony Kurdzuk brought a bunch of long lenses to use for the eagles but I also asked him to bring me an 11-24mm so I could give it a try.

Well, it is incredible.

It is rectilinear lens, which means you don’t get the crazy distortion you normally get with a lens this wide. In fact, this is the only lens made by anyone that goes to 11mm for a full-frame camera. I have a 15mm fish-eye, but the world becomes warped when I use it, so I rarely do. This lens just doesn’t do that. Like Tony said, you can never have a too wide lens, but this one is close.

The first thing I tried was aiming it directly at the sun during sunset. That is one way to quickly find any flaws in the glass. Most lenses flare like crazy when you aim it at the sun but there is only a slight flare, and it is a nice flare.

Pier under cloudsThen I wanted to see what happened at f/4, which is the constant largest aperture. Nothing but cool. And sharp.

Log in the bayLast I got really close to a log in the water with a long exposure. The color version of this shot is nice but I like the Black & White. There is a silly amount of depth of field here, I’m inches from the log.

The final verdict: I’m sold. I’ll be ordering mine soon.

Posted in equipment, Tech Tagged , |

Thinking back on a unique Korean experience

korean kidsI came across an old photo today and all these years later it makes me feel as good as it did that day. I was lucky to work for the Associated Press at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. I worked the evening shift, so during the day I would go out and shoot around the Olympics. One day I got on the subway and headed out to a neighborhood away from the Olympics. It was a fairly poor area and it didn’t take long to realize not a lot of 6’2″ guys with blonde hair wandered their streets.

I noticed a young boy and girl walking across the the street from me and they were giggling and gawking at me. I waved to them and they waved back. It continued for a few blocks and they disappeared. I thought it was a pretty cool experience when the two appeared again. They came over to my side of the street and were carrying three ice cream cones, one for each of them and one for me. What a surprise!

It was one of the nicest gestures ever. We stood there eating our ice cream and laughing. I pointed to my camera to ask them if I could make a picture of them. They gladly posed, waved goodbye and headed off down a side street. I wished I was able to go to their house but at least I had a great memory and a nice photo. It was fun thinking about it again today.

Posted in My life, People, Photo adventure Tagged , , , |

Super moon in Charleston

While on my way back to N.J. after two art shows in Florida, I made a side trip to Charleston, S.C., to photograph the “super moon” tonight. The full moon won’t be this close to the earth until 2034, which means it looks larger than normal.

I usually like to shoot the full moon on the night before the actual full moon, it rises about an hour earlier, so there is still light in the foreground. But I had an art show yesterday and couldn’t get out to shoot, so my only choice was tonight.

I used a program called Photographer’s Ephemerist to pre-determine where the moon would rise behind a large fishing pier on Folly Beach. It blows my mind that I can sit at my computer or use the app on my iPhone and know where I need to be to line up the rising moon and the pier.

Get info on purchasing this image.

Posted in My life, Photo adventure, Photo tip, Scenic Tagged , , , |