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Tag : NJ

28 Jul 2019

Fun at night in Somerville

Last night I did another version of a fun workshop, night photography. I love shooting at night, you can do it any night, it really doesn’t matter what the weather is as long as you aren’t doing astrophotography. And since New Jersey isn’t the best place to be for photographing stars I go for other things when in N.J.

I took the group to Somerville where I did some light painting and showed them the tricks of long exposures. Photographing car lights as they streak past during a long exposure is a lot of fun and crazy things happen. There are a lot of people on the street in Somerville on a Saturday night and they are a curious bunch when they see a lot of photographers lined up with tripods. It is fun telling them I’m waiting for Beyonce, which always brings on more questions. I’m not lying…

We light painted several buildings and the public fountain near the historic courthouse. Light painting is a fun technique where a flash light is used to illuminate objects. We also we went over to a dark railroad overpass and to a cemetery where I did the light painting and didn’t make any images. 

09 May 2019

Admiring New Jersey’s gardens

New Jersey is the Garden State after all. And there are many public gardens that were previously large private estates that had elaborate gardens that are now either maintained by private foundations or local and state governments. I decided to load up my 12 passenger van and take a tour of three of them. It was a fun day and the group enjoyed going to Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills, Cross Estate Gardens in nearby Bernardsville and then up to the crown jewel of NJ’s gardens, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens in Ringwood. If you haven’t been there it is an experience. If you have been there you know it never looks the same twice. It includes 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands. It was a beautiful as you can see by the photos the participants made at https://lorenphotos.com/nj-gardens-tour-may-2019/

Below are some of the photos I shot.

06 May 2019

Being creative in Cape May

One of New Jersey’s many jewels is Cape May, a beautiful beach town at the southern tip of the state. Cape May has long been a tourist town, they claim to be America’s first beach town. It has a huge white sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean and nearby beaches on the Delaware Bay, although they tend to be not as white. The town is filled with historic, quaint and colorful Victorian houses that are great fun to view and photograph. It is also happens to be one of the bird watching hot spots in the U.S., especially in migration seasons since the shape of the northeast U.S. funnels birds through Cape May and many stop to rest and eat before crossing the Delaware Bay.

It is the perfect location for a creativity photography workshop, which is why I did it there! It is a great fun to get away and think mainly about being creative with photography. I wanted to emphasize the creative aspects of photography rather than the technical, we often get too wrapped up in the technical and forget to just have fun and experiment. Even though we caught a bit of rain, it was a fun few days and we made some really nice photos while thinking about our creative sides. Take a look at some photos made by the participants at https://lorenphotos.com/cape-may-creativity-weekend-2019/

20 Oct 2018

Taking to the air over Far Hills

Each year there is a massive event in Central New Jersey called the Far Hills Race Meeting. It is officially steeplechase horse races on a beautiful property in the small rural and extremely upscale town of Far Hills. About 30,000 attend the event and some of them know there are horse races going on. The rest are there for other reasons, including being seen, seeing others, showing off their expensive cars, putting on the most lavish tail gate party possible and for many getting drunk beyond belief. If you can stay away from the drunks it is quite the event. I’ve been photographing it for nearly 30 years and for the last 20 from the air.

The race association has me shoot from a helicopter to document the event from that vantage both for aesthetic shots but also to help them plan traffic control. I fly twice during the day and it makes it easy for them to see where jams occur as people make their way to the farm.

The best way to shoot from a helicopter is to take the door off and hang out the side. Sometimes the pilot has a climbing harness that I use but this year I just made sure the seat belt was secure. You can’t lean out too far or the wind from the rotors blows so hard you can’t hold the camera steady. So I lean out far enough to not get the chopper in the photo when I’m using a wide angle lens but not so far as to catch rotor wash. It was a bit chilly today but I was ready with gloves and a good warm jacket. As always, the world looks great from above.

29 Sep 2018

Looking around The Ville at night

Last night I held a night photography workshop in Somerville, NJ. It is always a lot of fun to see how my hometown looks after dark. We started in a cemetery that has some large but rather eerie monuments. I tend to hang out in cemeteries probably more than I should and I’m always amazed by the tributes that have been built to the dead. At least they make for fun photographs. We got there before it was pitch dark so there would still be some light in the sky. For the first shot we were lucky to be aimed toward the Big Dipper, which were about the only stars visible since there is so much light pollution in New Jersey.

One of the things I love to do at night is light painting: using a flashlight to illuminate dark objects. A cemetery is a perfect place to do it since few are lit at night. It gives me lots of control over the light. We could see a highway behind the second monument we shot, which give us cool red lights streaking past plus I caught an airplane flying past.

After we got out of the cemetery alive we went to downtown Somerville and did lots of fun long exposure shots. There is a monument/fountain on the courthouse square that is pretty dark on one side so I did some light painting on it and we shot from the side so we could see the old Somerset Hotel and a new building going up that has lots of light on it. The Somerset Hotel sign on the roof isn’t lit so I brightened it up also with my flashlight. We also played with some long exposure tricks, like spinning the camera while photographing neon signs. It is a lot of fun.

We finished the night on Division St., a pedestrian mall that has lots of things going on. I had fun with some colorful tables and chairs in front of a restaurant that had funky colored lights. It looks do different at night, which was the whole purpose of the workshop.

27 Jul 2018

There’s lots of color in those balloons

I love to fly in hot air balloons and they are almost as much fun to photograph. If I had a lot more money and a lot more friends and a lot more time, I’d be a balloon pilot. You need lots of friends to help chase the balloon and pack it up. But then if I had lots of money I’d probably have more friends…

But anyway, this weekend is the QuickChek Festival of Ballooning in New Jersey. Many years ago they were one of my commercial clients and I was the photographer for event. Part of my deal with them was to be able to fly and the last time I went was in a balloon that looked like a teddy bear and had a twin. They held hands as they flew and landed. Those were pilots with skills, shaped balloons are hard to fly but to do everything in unison is crazy.

This morning was the press event where some of the balloons inflate and pretty much anyone can wander around the launch field as the balloons fill with air and fly away. It is a great opportunity to get up close and make some fun photos. I usually make it an event for my Somerset Photography Meetup Group and we always have a good turnout. It was fun getting out there and shooting with everyone.

10 May 2018

A pretty evening on the Delaware

The weather was looking pretty stormy this afternoon so I decided to see if I could run down a thunder storm. I headed west from my Somerville, NJ, home looking for a fun rural storm shot. There wasn’t much going on as I drove so I thought I would go to the lovely burg of Frenchtown on the Delaware River bordering Pennsylvania. Frenchtown is quaint and pretty and it was getting pretty dark as I rolled into town. The sky wasn’t great so I walked along the canal looking for something unusual. I didn’t find it and went back to the bridge crossing the river to try some long exposures. Moving water and clouds always look great during a long exposure so I set the camera on 30 seconds and started shooting. It’s not my favorite photo ever but it was a nice evening on the Delaware.

05 May 2018

Putting light on an old bunker

The last thing we did today during my Cape May Photographic Creativity Workshop was to break out my big flashlight again and illuminate an old WWII concrete bunker on one of Cape May’s beaches. The bunker is pretty cool but not pretty. Built right at the water’s edge to watch for German attacks, it is now well back from the water but surrounded by sand. There are no lights nearby which makes a perfect object for light painting. After the sun went down we set up our tripods and I painted the bunker several times. I tried lighting it from different directions to see how unique each one looked. I liked how this angle brought some detail and how the light looked on the sand.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is calling for lots of rain, so we may end up in the classroom rather than the field but it has been great working with people as they shoot and trying some new things.

05 May 2018

Using exposure as a creative device

Workshops are just plain fun! It is great to get out with people, think only about making images and enjoying wherever I am. Today wasn’t the greatest weather for my Cape May Photographic Creative Workshop but that doesn’t matter. I started a the day before sunrise with a small group on the beach again. I decided to shoot the same pilings I did yesterday and try to see how I could make the same object look different. It was mostly cloudy as the sky got some light but they were pretty cool clouds. I tried some shots of the piling to emphasize the clouds and then changed my settings to make the pilings the center of interest. The photos looked completely different but I didn’t move the camera. It was a fun experiment in creativity.

04 May 2018

Thinking about creativity in Cape May

This afternoon was the start of my Cape May Photographic Creativity Workshop and I have a great group of people. We spent a couple of hours talking about creativity and pushing ourselves beyond the obvious. I found a great quote from Picasso that goes something like “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I can’t say that I understand most of Picasso’s paintings but that is the point, I don’t need to. We get so wrapped up in making sure that others like what we do that we drop into a formula that worked once and we force everything else into that same formula. We don’t try new things, we don’t try to fail, we only try to succeed the same way we did the last time.

When I started in photography I had to buy film and pay for processing, so it cost me money I didn’t have to make mistakes. Fortunately I worked as a newspaper photographer and shot pictures all day every day and I could make a safe picture and then try anything I wanted to see if it would work. I learned a lot more from my failures than I did from my successes. I still do. When I’m out shooting I try lots of different things and shoot a lot of bad photos. It doesn’t cost anything more than time and if I come back with nothing then the worst thing that has happened is that I had a great time being out of my office and being creative. 

Creativity really comes down to three things: exploring, discovering, and imagining. Wow, isn’t great to be able to go out with a camera in hand and worry about nothing other than exploring, discovering and imagining! Explore. Discover. Imagine. When I do that the result doesn’t matter, it is the journey. If I focus on the journey and explore, discover and imaging then it is amazing how many times great results pour in. 

After the classroom session we went out shooting near Cape May’s lighthouse. We finished the day by painting light on the lighthouse. I have a great big flashlight and illuminated the lighthouse well after sunset while there was a little light left in the sky. The long exposure made the clouds floating past look intense as stars and planets shined through the clouds. A great way to end the first day.

04 May 2018

A peaceful morning on Cape May beach

Today is the start of my Cape May Photographic Creativity Workshop and I started the day well before sunrise out on the beach right across from my hotel. It was a beautiful morning and one of the great things about being out at sunrise is there aren’t many other people, especially at this time of year. I love the way the world looks before the sun comes up but it is always hard to drag my butt out of bed. I woke up at about 4:30 a.m. and looked out the window kinda hoping to see rain even though the forecast was for clear skies. The moon was shining bright on the beach and I could see stars. Drat.

I threw on some clothes and grabbed a jacket since it is always colder on the beach in Cape May. When I arrived in town yesterday the temperature was 85 degrees until I pulled into Cape May when it quickly dropped to 67 thanks to the ocean breeze. It was pretty chilly as I dragged my photo backpack and tripod across the street and onto the sand. Light was just starting to enter the sky as I looked for something other than sand to shoot. Even though I’ve spend the last 30 years living less than 30 miles from the ocean I’m not an ocean person. I don’t like crowds, especially rowdy crowds and I always seem to encounter them when I go to the beach in the summer. So being here in early May and before the sun comes up is pretty nice. Now to find something to shoot.

I saw some pilings not too far down the beach and I headed that way. When I got there I saw it was actually an ugly drain pipe and the pilings were there to keep it in place. Not my idea of natural beauty but I thought I could work with it. I had a very wide angle lens on my camera and I decided to use the pilings as a graphic feature of my photo. The moon was slowly setting as more light filled the sky, a bank of clouds were coming up from the south and another patch of clouds were out over the ocean to the east. The light was beautiful and I used a five second exposure to make the incoming waves look silky smooth. The pilings reflected nicely in the wet sand where larger waves had rolled in and some nice color hit the clouds over the ocean.

What a beautiful, peaceful morning.

03 May 2018

Using a long exposure to build up color

There is something special about a long exposure – especially when water is involved. A long exposure of moving water, leaving the camera’s shutter open more than two seconds, turns reality into a soft, surreal scene. After the sun set this evening and the other people left the Cape May, NJ, beach as darkness set it, I was able to shoot some of my favorite scenes, just the ocean, beach and sky. Over the years I have learned to stick around after sunset for the best color. Right before the sun goes down there can be a bright blast of color and again the color get rich right after sunset. For about 15-20 minutes the color can get rather blah but then varying, softer colors can come in and create a very different feel. I’m amazed how often I see photographers pack up their gear right after sunset, not knowing that many times the best is yet to come. Sometimes I tell them to hang out and other times I hoard all the beauty for myself. Tonight I had it all to myself. I made a bunch of exposures, trying many different settings and angles. This one was with a 16mm lens set at f/5.6 with the shutter open for 30 seconds so the water would be nice and smooth. The long exposure also builds up the soft color.

03 May 2018

In my mind there is always more to a pretty sunset

There are times when I’m shooting and big, heavy thoughts come into my head. I think about how the photo might be symbolism for the meaning of life or wonder how images alter the behavior of people. Fortunately that doesn’t happen often or I might be goofier than I already am. But there are times when I’m out enjoying the world while I have a camera in my hand and the scene is just classic pretty.

This evening I was wandering a beach in Cape May, NJ, as the sun was going down. It wasn’t the most spectacular sunset ever but it was pretty and the few people sharing the beach were enjoying it. A couple was walking on a levy jutting out in the water as the sun lowered on the horizon. I like watching people, seeing how they interact and making up stories about them. This couple was young, obviously on a date and didn’t know each other well. They didn’t touch or hold hands but she walked in a demur way and he had a macho strut. If I were a fiction writer this couple would fit well into a romance novel where she ends up being a serial killer who strips the tattoos off his arms with a potato peeler. Now you know why I’m not a writer. Anyway, I like trying to capture body language in my photos and they were great unwitting subjects. Although I usually like to talk to people I photograph, I wanted to keep this couple anonymous so my stories about them wouldn’t be spoiled. I would have freaked out a bit if I saw she had any kitchen implements.

09 Feb 2016

Vintage cameras from a friend feel right at home

cameraCollectionI don’t know how I got so lucky to have great family and friends.

My wife Robin and I had dinner tonight with our friends Brian Horton and Marilyn Dillon. Marilyn was Robin’s editor back in the day and helped get Robin going in the right direction as a writer. Marilyn continues to be a strong inspiration for both of us.

Brian was a longtime photographer and headed sports photography for the Associated Press. He set up AP’s coverage for major sporting events all over the world, whether it was Super Bowls, Olympics or World Series. You name it Brian had it covered.

I met Brian when both of us were working in Ohio. I was at a small newspaper in southern Ohio and he worked for the AP photo bureau in Columbus. Ronald Reagan was coming to my little town two days before being elected president in 1980. It was a huge deal in town so Brian came down to cover it and then to help us. Those were the days when most newspapers didn’t have color photos and Brian brought one of AP’s new color transmitters so we’d have a color photo on the front page the next day. A few years later I got a photo editor job in New Jersey and Marilyn had just started as the newspaper’s metro editor and Brian was working for the AP in New York City.

Brian and Marilyn have a beautiful home down on the Jersey shore and they’re in what they call a slow process of moving there from their longtime home in Fanwood. Combining two houses into one is never fun and one day when I was at their house I was admiring Brian’s collection of old cameras. Brian offhandedly said I could have them when he got them all packed up. I didn’t think he meant it and forgot about it.

When we went to dinner tonight, Brian said he had a surprise for me in the car. Of course I love surprises so I begged him to tell me what it was. Brian said it was the old cameras. I was elated and pretty shocked. Robin could tell by the look on my face that is was something special but she didn’t really understand the significance of what I was getting.

After dinner Brian pulled a cardboard box out of his car and handed it to me. I looked in his eyes and could tell he was more than a little emotional about passing on the cameras. I was honored that he entrusted them with me and I knew I had the perfect place to display the cameras in my office. So Robin and I ran over there right after dinner, I opened the box and gently pulled out all the cameras that Brian it carefully wrapped in newspaper.

My office is in a building built in 1892 and it has incredible woodwork. There’s an old fireplace at the end of the room with little wood shelves perfect for my new camera collection. I carefully put each camera on the shelves starting with old box and Brownie cameras, a twin lens reflex camera, some Kodak Junior cameras with bellows and finally a couple old 4X5 press cameras.

I’m thrilled to have the cameras part of my new office, they really add to the atmosphere. I will admire them, remember their history and think of Brian every day. It is the perfect home.

31 Oct 2015

The latest sunrise of the year and unexpected frost

1411Today is my favorite day of the year to shoot sunrise, the sun rises at its latest time of the year since tomorrow we switch back off Daylight Savings Time. So today’s 7:30 sunrise becomes 6:30 tomorrow. I can handle getting out before 7:30, but 6:30 is always more of a challenge.

1473Even though I spent a lot of time in Vermont chasing fall foliage, I thought I would catch the end of the New Jersey version since the forecast was for clear skies this morning.

I was geared up to shoot the remaining leaves on the trees but when I got to the park there was a beautiful layer of frost on the ground.

Change of plans.

1358I walked around looking for unique patterns and great color before the sun hit, since I knew the frost would last only minutes once sunlight covered it. I found an area that had leaves from many different trees and the colors were really nice. I set up my tripod waiting for the sunlight to come over. I was looking for nice colors and found plenty of them and shot until the frost melted off.

I saw some nice leaves on a bush in the shade so I went over to check them out. The light falling on them was soft and warm and really brought out the color that was bordered by frost on the edge of the leaves. I worked my tripod around to get the composition I wanted and found myself standing there with a smile on my face. The soft light changed quickly and suddenly the best photo was gone but I got the shot I wanted and still had a smile thinking about how lucky I was to be the only person to have witnessed that fleeting moment of natural wonder.