Saturday, August 31, 2013

A look back at spring flowers

I won't fill the page with text and image analysis today. This is just a flower shot that I found in going through some of last year's photos. Feel free to offer your own reactions in the comments section.

Thanks for looking!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shelley Lake sunset

I stopped by Shelley Lake, Raleigh, August 23, hoping to catch some sunset colors on the lake. I knew that the topography (wooded hills to the west) meant that the sun wouldn't be visible at the actual point of sunset. Sometimes, though, intense colors are produced after it dips below the horizon, and sometimes fascinating cloud formations precede the disappearance.

As it turned out, there was rather a nice combination of effects about ten minutes before sunset.

Then, as if on cue, geese flew by.

Right at sunset (by the clock), the sky lit up quite a distance above the horizon.

In the dim afterglow, a goose swam very close by. I had to quickly adjust ISO, shutter speed and aperture to have a shot at capturing its silhouette, rather than a total blur.

All photos shot with 17 or 24mm tilt/shift lenses, manual focus, manual exposure settings.


A log cabin, an old barn, a tin roof, and a stone wall

E. Carroll Joyner Park, near Wake Forest, NC, contains some serene paths for walking or bicycling. There are lovely groves of pecan trees. For me as a photographer making a first visit (August 22), the most interesting aspect was the confluence of old man-made structures and the surrounding plants.

As soon as I entered the area, I was drawn to a reflective roof beneath a dramatic sky.

It turned out to be the old mule barn, one of several original farm buildings in the park.

There is a very long stone wall that makes numerous ess curves.

I liked this arboreal lineup.

Another group of trees lined up perfectly outside the window of the restored log cabin.

The wall stretches up this hill and seems to disappear into the horizon.

Here's the outside of the cabin.

After interpreting the cabin in contrasty black and white, I shot the neighboring building with an eye toward abstract shapes, colors, and textures.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Washington Irving estate, "Sunnyside", Tarrytown, NY

The American author Washington Irving is best remembered for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, but he was the creator of a great many works of biography and history, as well as numerous short stories. He lived roughly during the period between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, 1783-1859, and made his fame during a period of about seventeen years that he lived in England, France, and Spain. His success continued after his return to the USA. Irving was the first American to live entirely by the fruits of his writing, and our first professional author was a true celebrity of his time.

The Irving estate was kept by the family until the mid twentieth century. It is now maintained by Historic Hudson Valley, and made available to the public through tours. The gardener's house and the newer buildings that now function as a museum are deeply nestled amid foliage and hillocks.

Here is a tree that was present during the American Revolutionary War!

Our tour docent related much of the history of the estate: how Washington Irving chose the grounds, modified the landscape in true romantic style, expanded the small cottage in stages, and watched with misgivings as the railroad passage was built along the Hudson River a stone's throw from his home. When the line was put into use, the train would stop to let Irving board or debark, and when passing would blow the whistle in acknowledgment of the famous author's house.

Although photos of the interior were not permitted in the tiny rooms, I was allowed a shot of the copper water heater and cast iron stove in the basement level kitchen. The system of hot running water was cutting edge technology for its day.

A few excellent photos of the rooms are available at the Historic Hudson Valley website.

As our docent bid farewell at the end of our tour, she described some of the things we would yet see as we climbed the path to return to the estate entrance.

The interior of the granary, now storing firewood:

The ice house:

Another docent educating an attentive young girl:

Wildflowers by one of the ponds that Washington Irving had sculpted, in the romantic tradition of improving the landscape.

The end of a fascinating visit!


Rockefeller State Park, NY

Upon entering Rockefeller State Park in Westchester, NY, one of the first things I noted was this welded steel sculpture, "Acrobat, 2007" by Helene Brandt. As it is surrounded by hedges and trees, rather than bare museum walls, it was a challenge to record a representation that would capture some of the three dimensional form.

Here is a detail:

We encountered one of the caretakers traversing the grounds on his trusty steed.

The lake is surrounded by heavy woods and mostly shady foot (and equestrian) paths.

It was a simple afternoon of simple pleasures.


Final morning in Bar Harbor

As you can see from the first photo coming up, our last morning in Bar Harbor began with heavy layers of fog over the water.

As I moved along the waterfront, I spotted a little abstract composition with streetlamp in foreground, ship's masts in background.

The masts proved to belong to the Margaret Todd, which I had photographed our first night in the harbor. I saw the seagull coming, and timed the shot to catch it between the masts - no Photoshop manipulation of this one. The gull was, of course, closer to me than the ship was, and moving fast, so I was pleased that I could react well enough with a single shot. A good warmup for the coming soccer season, although I'll be doing plenty of burst shooting for that!

Continuing along the shore path, I climbed down on the rocks to get close to this algae and lichen covered mass.

Further along, I was rewarded with one of the most magical moments of our trip. I had been tracking a bright yellow kayak, and spotted a mid-sized boat emerging from a fog layer at the same time that an islet appeared above and behind it. I nice ending for this portion of our trip. I was sorry to return to the car and leave the area, yet happy and satisfied as we headed for NY.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bar Harbor, two nights and a day

Continuing with the same evening that ended my previous post:
After wandering the waterfront for a time, we explored the downtown shops, which stay open late.

I love the moose on the roof!

Then, with a good night's rest in the Castlemaine Inn to fortify us, we went back to the coastline in the morning.

Japanese beetles are afflicting a lot of the flowers. This one had to share the space with a bee.

There were hikers' cairns set up all along a section of the shore path, and I thought this set made an amusing counterpoint to the very large balanced boulder in the mid-ground and the huge rocky island in the background.

We drove to Bass Harbor Head to scout locations for early evening photos of the Lighthouse. I clambered down the rocks and did this planning shot directly into a merciless sun, which is just above the frame of the photo.

Exploring the southern regions of the peninsula during the mid-late-afternoon, we found this picturesque inlet.

We returned to Bass Harbor, and I hiked back down the rocks, but it became apparent that the sun would not be setting quite where I had expected, so I moved up and over. This had the advantage of getting me closer to the lighthouse, but put me up against a barbed wire fence. I put one tripod leg through the mesh (and another in the poison ivy at my feet), raised the camera above the top of the fencing, and waited for the sky to develop interest.

After this, the colors in the sky seemed to dissolve, so I moved on to other views of the house and other scenes.

Well after sunset, this lagoon along the roadside erupted with color, necessitating a stop and a very quick setup of camera and tripod.

Our one full day in Maine was all too brief an experience, but the next morning would also offer some fun before we went on our way toward New York.