Wreckage (The plane is not forgotten and it is anything but untouched.)

Wreckage on a distant shore.

Wreckage on a distant shore.

The images of this iconic fuselage that sits on one of Iceland’s black sand beaches has haunted me for years. I first seen this photo of this wreckage years ago and In doing recent research for exotic photography locations, I keep seeing it pop up in my searches.

Although it is called by many names and it really seems to have no official name the wreckage of a (and I quote) “Douglas Super DC-3 airplane lies hollow and forgotten on a deserted black beach in Iceland – untouched since it crashed more than four decades ago.” Actually that statement is far from true. The plane is not forgotten and it is anything but untouched. It has been the focus of several fashion shoots and of recent it is one of the top exotic wedding photography locations in the world. I was recently reading an article about these exotic locations and again I seen this wreckage and that gave me the idea to acquire a high-resolution copy of the wreckage and give it a work up in Photoshop. I made it a little weekend project and I actually worked on some Photoshop techniques that I hadn’t used in a while. Photoshop for me is a lot like playing an instrument; If you do not keep at it you will soon forget what you have learned.

This image will be put to large-scale print for future sale as I do from time to time. This would certainly make a nice 16 x 24 inch print or larger. But I still have to fine tune it.

So for those who are wondering this is a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 that crash landed on or about November 23, 1973. I say “on or about” because there are some discrepancies in the details around the reason and the date. Some articles say it was put down due to “icing” and that the pilot chose the openness of the black sand beach, while other articles mention fuel calculation errors. Being a military plane I would like to believe the first story of “too much ice.” Either way all crew members survived and the Navy chose not to recover the plane. It seems that everybody who writes about the plane tells a tale of how hard the wreckage location is to find. And I find this very hard to believe, with tools like Google Earth and a good GPS unit you can drive right to it. The actual location is 63.459523,-19.364618. https://youtu.be/LwBDzMFVbnA

Thanks so much for reading.

Hey where’s everybody at? (…we roll into Princeton at daybreak and it was perfect. Well I should say “almost perfect”)

Howard Henry Dormitory at Princeton University.

Howard Henry Dormitory at Princeton University in the early morning predawn hours.

Where are all the people at? It really was a perfectly executed plan between my friend Mark and me. It starts out with an idea to photograph architecture at Princeton University. I know it seems easy and fun, but what about all the people? How do you get good photos with all the people roaming to & fro on campus? And you must know I am a big fan of not bothering people with my being all up in their face with a camera and a tripod when I am not there to photograph people. On the other hand if I was photographing people… well then I am a little more in their face, but still with respect to personal space.

I had actually had this idea for several years and it always got nixed because it seemed like more trouble than it is worth. I mean if you look at it realistically; ok, I need to be on the campus when there are no people so how do I do that. If I go on Sunday morning there will still be the dog walkers and joggers out at the crack of dawn and once the day gets going… well it is all downhill after that. But it was Mark who said “well I guess if we go there at mid-August would be the best time because like most colleges if you go at the end of August you will have everybody coming back to school a few weeks before opening day so I think that to be the best time.” So on August 19th we roll into Princeton at daybreak and it was perfect. Well I should say “almost perfect” because while there were no students and very little staff there were several contractors working and mulling around on campus. However contractors are not bothered too much at all by two friendly photographers. So we get in early and after about two and a half hours we’re done and headed for coffee.

Autumn Walkway ( just driving up & down Princeton using my computer until I found it.)

Hand held HDR of a walkway in Princeton New Jersey in the autumn.

Hand held HDR of a walkway in Princeton New Jersey in the autumn.

I really like this image I captured this morning while traveling through Princeton New Jersey with my wife. I like the image, but it could be better. Truth be told I did tweak the yellow just a little in Photoshop and the photo is a “hand held” HDR. For those who are not photography geeks should know an HDR image is most times captured using a tripod and it is a combination of under exposure, normal exposure and over exposure images all merged in Photoshop.

So why not use a tripod? And why do I not love the image? Like most landscape images you never really capture the “wow” factor the first time out to the location and this time was no different. I want to capture the day when there is a carpet of yellow leave blanketing the ground. So because it was not at its peak moment I decided to take a quick photo by hand holding the camera.

I first saw this location posted on a photo site three years ago and the caption read “Princeton Sidewalk.” I am familiar with Princeton because I live not far from there and I knew at some point I had walked past this place, but I could never really remember where it was. I used Google Earth Street View to actually locate it. And believe me that was not easy. I spent three different sessions on Google street view just driving up & down Princeton using my computer until I found it. And of course when I did find it, it was a big DUH!

So I will head back to the location in a few days for a second chance.

 

Photo of The Day (30 stories up with Danny Sturdivant)

Model Dany Sturdivant, makeup by Ambre Baxter.

Model Dany Sturdivant, makeup by Ambre Baxter.

Today’s image finds model Danny 30 stories high in midtown Manhattan as the night descends on New York City.

Foxtails Autumn 2015 (just another part of the beauty that is the autumn season)

1/500 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 150mm

1/500 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 150mm

Foxtail in the late day autumn sun. I love Foxtail when they’re fresh and green during the summer. But they really look their best in the fall when they dry and turn a straw color. On the farm where I live there are Foxtail along the borders of the fields and they are just another part of the beauty that is the autumn season, same as pumpkins, cornfields, apples and of course the flaming foliage.

What does Autumn mean to you? The first of a series of images that will be posted in the coming days/weeks titled “Autumn 2015” it will be a series of images that define what I see as the beauty of Autumn. This is a personal project that I have been wanting to do for several years and never really followed through. I’m hoping to create 10 to 20 images although weather and mother nature will dictate some of the ideas I have planned.

Princeton University Photowalk (open your mouth and make a friend)

5 Bracket HDR f/16 ISO 50 55mm

5 Bracket HDR f/16 ISO 50 55mm

 

I have learned a long time ago to talk to people. Just talk to someone whom you might night not normally talk to and it can open a door that will lead you to so many great things, such as friendship and good times in good places and of course good memories. I know this can be hard for many people, it was hard for me too, and that is until several years ago when I was exposed to large groups of people on a weekly basis. I have a catering business and we cook mostly on location so I would see no less than 50 people and of course you’re cooking this awesome food for them so many people will want to talk to you. I really think that this is what has made my catering business so successful over the last 18 years. Now I must tell you I never planned it this way, but if someone came to talk to me I certainly could not be rude so I would engage them in conversation. And of course there are those times that people want to talk and you are in a bad mood or something just isn’t going right and the last thing you want to do is talk to anyone. You know… these are the times when really all we want to do is talk to ourselves… out loud with profanity (lol). But even in these times I learned you must step back and think of the person engaging you. Ask them (not tell them) “is it ok if we talk later, now is not a good time for me” and most times (if not all) the person will understand.

I really feel passionate about talking with people because I never knew I had it in me and I never planned on getting good at it. And while it became a great tool for my catering business it is also just as great for my photography business. If you are going to photograph people you need to be able to communicate, but you also need to be able to just relate to people. New York based fashion photographer Lindsay Adler once said she likes to talk a lot with the model during technical problems on a shoot. Sounds crazy I know, but the logic is; that there is no “dead” air because silence in that situation lets people become unfocused and maybe even nervous. Like an announcer at a sporting event, maybe there is a delay of some sort, but the announcer will keep talking. Just imagine how awkward it would be if he didn’t talk during a delay? So yes Lindsay is right and I actually learned this a long time ago, long before I heard her say it.

We have all been in that awkward situation where we are left alone with someone and there is time to kill, but the only thing dying is us and it is because of silence. Because we’re both afraid to just talk and say something to the other person. Now maybe the other person just does not want to talk, this could very well be, but how would you know unless you take that little step. After all that little step could be one of the biggest steps in your life. Just stop and think about that for a moment… ok so maybe the person is unreceptive and that is ok. Or are they unreceptive because you’re not relating to them? Remember it is not just about talking, you must also relate to them on some kind of level or common ground. I think the biggest and most used icebreaker is the weather, however this is the one topic I steer clear of. I mean if I just walked into a room and I was soaking wet because I got caught in a rain shower… ok I might mention the weather at that point lol. But most times I don’t mention weather because it is too generic.

How do you get better at talking and relating to people? Just get out and be around people in a genuine way, but also in a way you have to interact and physically talk to them. So throw away social media on this one because it will not help you at all.

Quick story and it is directly related to the photo. So I go to a photography seminar in Philadelphia several months ago. The speaker is renowned photographer Joe McNally so I’m really excited. As we are entering into the room and looking for a seat, I see several empty seats and one that is taken. So to be nice and courteous I ask “is this seat taken” and the gentleman replies with a “no” so I sit. He looks like he is by himself and I reach out and introduce myself and shake the man’s hand. Now relating in this situation is very easy because I know he likes photography. So after we are settled and we still have time we begin to talk (now remember this could be that god awful silent time) and long story somewhat short is we find out we live very close to each other and we agree that we should go out and enjoy a day of photography together. Well not only have we done that but Mark has also helped me with a model shoot and just yesterday we went out for a fun day of just freestyle shooting. The location we chose was Princeton University and yes we had a great time. We started at daybreak and ended about 10:30am and then went and viewed a photography exhibit at a local hospital. And it all happened because… I opened the mouth god gave me and made a friend in doing so.

Model vs Landscape (and then that leaves the rest of us stuck looking at a bunch of useless signs)

Covered Bridge-Edit

 

When shooting faces there are always blemishes that need editing, if you have read some of my previous posts you know my general rule is “if it wasn’t supposed to be there then remove it.” The ever so evil pimple that shows up on the model’s face the morning of the photo shoot or maybe the micro dots of mascara that falls from her lashes and I think most of all is the stray hair across the face as this is always happening. Now I must tell you I am constantly looking for these nemeses as I’m shooting, I will sometimes go right up to a model and literally dissect her face with my eyes and I’ll see nothing. Then somewhere between the snap of the shutter and the download to Lightroom all these horrible little gremlins sneaked into my photos… urrggg!!!

One might say “well go shoot landscapes and you won’t have this problem.” Wrong! How many times have I seen that most beautiful farmhouse sitting out over that beautiful grassy field and I stopped the car and jump out with the tripod and camera bag, my wife peeling herself off the windshield asking “what is wrong, why did we stop?” And me just so excited saying “just two minutes that’s all I need just two minutes.” Now back in the car and my mind is just full of blissful thought about the scene I just captured. A few miles down the road it happens again… OMG an old wooden covered bridge, oh how the photography gods have shined on me today. I’m on a high higher than any major league sports star could buy from his dealer. But with every high there comes the crash, like a NASCAR at Talladega and it is never pretty. I’m sitting there as I watch the download come into Lightroom and “what the hell is this?” Power lines? Where did they come from? Who put all these ugly road signs in front of the covered bridge? And that is the “crash.” But it is the reality of the world we live in. I call these “landscape blemishes.” They just shouldn’t be there. I know they are not like the pimple on the model’s face after all I guess somebody needs the power line to be there and electricity is hard to live without, but I don’t want it in my photo so it is coming out. Same with road signs, although I feel they are most times not as important as power lines in our life, we do need to have road signs because we have an ever-increasing population of idiotic people and for some reason society feels that if we put up a plethora of signs it will save the idiots from themselves, but… well like they say “you can’t fix stupid” and then that leaves the rest of us stuck looking at a bunch of useless signs and this bothers photographers more than any other group of people.

So I think by now you can see where I’m coming from and most likely you too have traveled this road, thinking you have something great, until you downloaded and seen what was really there. So how does this happen? Well for the most part we are not “seeing what we are looking at.” I think it was Jay Maisel that said that, actually I’m not sure who said that, but I know Mr. Maisel did say “Be aware of every square millimeter of your frame.” And that right there folks is not an easy task at all times. However with time you can teach yourself to see what you’re looking at and when you do learn this it is actually more frustrating and you’ll almost wish you never knew it. Why? Because now you start seeing what you’re looking at, you start seeing the power lines and the road signs as you’re framing up the shot and now you have to decide “do I want to find another angle or do I want to Photoshop the signs out?” Maybe to find the right angle for that farmhouse out in the field you will have to go up on the hill behind you, or walk out across the field. Hey nobody ever said “getting the good shot was going to be easy” and if they did, well they lied.

Now there is another angle (pardon the pun) to this dilemma and that takes us back to the model’s face. Why do I have to edit the model’s face? Let me say it like this; I could be sitting having coffee with a person, we are sitting right across from each other for thirty minutes and sure I can see them. But do I really see them like I would see them when I snap the shutter at 1/125 of a second and freeze the look for all eternity? No. This is more or less the same thing that happens with landscape and environmental images. The road signs and power lines are always there but we pay very little attention to them… that is until we snap the shutter and then all of a sudden we see them loud & clear. So in the end we have landscape vs model’s face, most likely I would find it easier to edit the model.

Happy shooting and remember “are seeing what you’re looking at?

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

IMG_3179

It Is Confirmed… Springtime is here. (Of course the ducks & geese and daffodils included are spring like sights)

_MG_0985-Edit

 

It really is a beautiful day here in Hunterdon County New Jersey today. I was out in the morning taking a walk and absorbing the signs of springtime. To walk along the canal and see the wild ducks and the Canada geese is always a nice sight. But to see a whole family ride by on bicycles is a true sign of nice spring like weather. Of course the ducks & geese and daffodils included are spring like sites; however they are always there even in the cold rain. But to see the whole family enjoying a cycle ride along the canal is the big confirmation that springtime weather is here.

I then left this area just north of Lambertville and headed just two miles north to the small river town of Stockton New Jersey and I stopped at the old Prallsville Mill. The scene was very similar with the wild ducks and geese in the mill-pond as they skeptically watch me ever so close. Seeing the big camera lens pointed at them is always very intriguing I know. Birds see color and most can see the blink of an eye at 200 yards, so surely they see my shutter clicking away. There were no cyclists to be found in Stockton, I think they were all gone on their rides headed north to Frenchtown. But I did see that another sign that tells me spring is here, the father & son fishing. This again is the confirmation of a beautiful spring day. Although the landscape is barren and lacks color it will soon come to life in a cascade of colorful flowers, leaves and grasses as it does every year.

So I close this post and head back out into the beautiful day to shoot a beautiful face. For this again the “outdoor” model shoot is yet another confirmation of warm spring day.

Thanks so much for reading.

Sometimes Something Special Happens (I would imagine I was an arctic explorer)

Winter Morning Sun

Winter Morning Sun

Sometimes one will happen upon a special scene. How do we know it is special? We see it of course, but I would say for me it is more of a feeling. Yes there is the visual presence of what we are seeing with our eyes. But more so I think what makes for the special scene is when it triggers a memory from long ago or it reminds us of a special place we have once visited or maybe a person in our life that is at the moment far away or has moved on from this world. So that is what this blog post is about. It is about this photo you see above and how this photo gave me that special feeling. I know this photo is not a work of art by any means and if it stirs a reaction from you I am very happy. Who knows it may give you a different feeling than it does me. After all I was the one standing there and got to actually see the beauty and feel it. So let me set the stage and how I came upon this scene.

As some know I am a school bus driver and I drive a small van size bus. The bus is not small because I have “special” students but rather I travel into a very rural area and on very narrow back roads of Hunterdon, Mercer & Somerset Counties here in New Jersey USA. This place you see in the photo is a place I stop every morning prior to picking up my first student of the day. I stop here to collect my thoughts and wait until the exact second on the clock to continue on and I like to be on time. On time, to the very second (a little OCD there). Because I arrive at this spot daily at 6:10am, in January it is dark, I just pull the bus to stop on the side of this back road and wait my time sitting in the seat. But on this day I was starting the day late because the school had a delayed opening due to a bad winter storm that had arrived the day before.

So upon driving up the road I noticed the sun rising to my right and as I approached my usual spot to stop I opened the door and stepped out. When I did this is the scene that was presented to me and it happened, that special feeling of “wow” look at this. For me it instantly took me back to when I was young and I would see the virgin snow across a meadow on the farm where I lived as a small child. I stood there as the memories swept through my mind. I can remember coming out of the house after the snow had stopped and finding a scene like this that had no foot prints at all and then trudging across the meadow leaving just “my” foot prints. As a child I would imagine I was an artic explorer and go off having fun as young children do. Like most memories, one is tied to another and they start to unravel like a string.

I quickly reached for my phone and I captured about 4-5 shots of this scene and then I went back to my memories. I thought about riding my Flexible Flyer sled, I thought about how we would come in from a day of winter fun, all sopping wet and hungry. As the memories just kept unraveling all of the sudden I was startled by a strong vibration in my right hand. My alarm clock in my phone was going off telling me it is time to start the bus run and in an instant the young boy playing in the snow evaporated from my mind. Although I seen him in idle moments throughout the rest of the day. Also I couldn’t wait to see how bad my photos were, thinking “what I seen vs. what the mobile phone camera captured.” To my surprise I had a good photo or at least good enough to do a minor edit and post to Facebook & Twitter. So the Twitter feedback lit up and I couldn’t wait to return home to see it on a monitor.

Most of us would give anything to go back in time to all the fun we had, snow included. But as we age we take that small child with us in our memories and every once in a while something unlocks the door and we can peer in and see they are still there playing away. Thank god for those “every once in a while” scenes.