Early Morning By The Creek (I want to get a decent shot of the all three creatures together before they disappear in front of my eyes.)

It was already a beautiful summer morning. I had dropped my wife and the dogs off at the farm and I had a free morning. The “farm” as we call it is actually a non-working farm were, we keep our commercial cooking equipment for our BBQ catering business. She likes to run the smoker herself and she chased me away. So, having a free morning for my photography I decided to head over to Delaware Township in hopes I would find some white tail deer grazing in a field.

It was about 5:45am the light was good, air was very warm at 70°, there was a ground fog that was quickly rising. The fog was not thick but, I thought it could add to any shot of deer grazing. I had the 70-200mm lens mounted and I also had my 24-70mm out and ready to mount if needed.

As I made my way along with no particular location or direction in mind, other than heading to the farmland, I felt peaceful and I actually said to myself “this is a good morning.” After heading down Route 202 I contemplated “should I just do a walk-around in the town of Lambertville?” Maybe I could catch some great street photography? Maybe not. I quickly turned up Headquarters’ road and on to Seabrook. “There it is” I thought, “that beautiful horse farm with the long winding lane.” I have captured this location in the past during the autumn colors but, hey, why not capture it during the early morning hours of a summer day.

Chicken Mushroom

I made my way down Seabrook and over to Grafton road where I was moving very slowly in fist gear and I seen a Chicken Mushroom off to the left about 50-70 yards away. And to make matters worse it was about 15-20 feet up a tree. I love Chicken Mushrooms and if that thing had been reachable from the ground, I would have snatched it. Still I took a nice photo of it to tantalize my wife with.

Then from Grafton I made my way over to Worman road, the road nobody ever seems to go down… Actually, not true lol there are several homes on Worman but, it does have a short distance of solitude where there are no houses or farms. And there they were… a doe and her lovely fawn, in the morning down by the creek for a drink of water. The fawn looked up rather quickly and flinched a bit when she first seen my truck slow down. The mother was somber but, very alert. They were about 150 feet away, down a ravine and on the opposite side of the creek. I just took a second to take in the scene, for I know once I raise the camera they will flee quickly.

 1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 400 185mm 6:03:58am

I moved quick with steady movement and raised the camera and snapped off a shot, then another and they started to move. Oh wait… this is not a good morning; this is an awesome morning. There is a blue heron with them and he is chomping away on minnows, having a delightful breakfast.

At this point I start going in to actions that I really don’t think about, they come rather instinctively from years of being around wildlife and knowing what’s going to happen next. First is “the blue bird is going to fly away and the deer are going to run up the hill,” I need to act fast. The road is downhill for about the next ¼ mile or more, I shut the engine down and put on the four-way flashers and shift to neutral, foot on the brake, knee on the bottom of the steering wheel. Now the deer are getting skittish and the bird is just looking. I want to get a decent shot of the all three creatures together before they disappear in front of my eyes.

1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 250 95mm 6:04:25am

This is how the whole sequence went down; I fired the first shot not knowing the heron was even there at all, the second shot I notice the heron and I go into the afore mentioned action of shutting down the engine. By time I take my 4th shot everybody is starting to move. Keep in mind the first shot was at 6:03:58am and the fourth shot is at 6:04:10am. Ok, so the deer are turning and getting ready to head up the hill but, my focus is on the blue heron. I know he will fly away because the always do. At 6:04:20am I get a shot of all three creatures. Next shot 6:04:23am I zoom to 200mm and get a (not good focus) shot of just the heron. I release my foot from the break and my truck rolls forward with only the gravel under the tires making a slight noise and zoom out taking another shot of all three at 6:04:25am, the heron is hopping a few steps and using the weeds as a curtain to hide form my line of sight. At 6:04:29am the deer are now heading up the hill and the heron is looking at them. 6:04:30am the heron flies but, not far. I’m still feathering the brake as my truck continues to roll down the gravel road ever so slowly.

1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 400 200mm 6:04:44am

The blue heron lands on a dead tree spanning the creek and positions himself so another tree is blocking my line of sight. At 6:04:44am I get a decent shot of the blue bird perched on the tree. It is not a perfect shot by any means, I’m in manual mode, 1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 400 200mm. I can live with those settings except the 1/60 second shutter speed, if it could have been 1/125 second, I would have had a wonderful shot. Not complaining because I am happy to just see this whole scene even if I had no camera. It is nature at it’s finest on a peaceful Sunday morning, I love it.

He now jumps from the tree down into the creek where I can barely get a view of him but, then I see him and he is already eating more minnows. I try to get shots of this but, to no avail, at 6:6:05:25am I get a shot where I can barely see he has something in his beak but, the shot is marred by weeds in my line of sight. I continue to follow him as he walks in the ravine of the creek and I fire the last shot at 6:05:38am. He is now staying stationary where I cannot see him and I know if I get out of the vehicle he will fly for sure and I get no shot because of the trees and lighting. Also, if he flies, he loses out on his minnows. So, I let him just stay hidden as I roll a little further down the road and fire up the engine and move along.

Now I continue on down Worman road seeing squirrels and birds and nothing more as interesting as the scene I had just witnessed.  Most people who are not from New Jersey think of this state as a congested wasteland of cul-de-sacs, highways and housing developments and while that is true of most of the state, there still are a few nice places where a person can witness a beautiful scene such as the one presented to me this morning.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

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Sights, Sounds & Smells of Autumn (leaves blowing and rustling as people walk on them, the corn stalks chattering as the wind…)

 

Pumpkins On A Wall 1/125 sec at f/9 ISO 800 115mm

Pumpkins On A Wall 1/125 sec at f/9 ISO 800 115mm

It is October 3rd and we are entering that blissful time of year here in the Western New Jersey USA. The days are getting shorter and Fall is in the air… literally. This morning as I stepped out of the house at 5:15am it was dark and foggy, but not too cool. Most of all I could smell the aroma of damp fallen leaves and that smell, although not very pleasant, is the smell that just gives me the vibe of autumn. There are other aromas as well, like corn fields as the dry and the smell fills the air as the sun warms the deadened corn stalks. Sounds too, leaves blowing and rustling as people walk on them, the corn stalks chattering as the wind gives them a voice. These are just a few of the sights, smells and sounds that brings the autumn season into my heart.

Below is a link to the “Backstory” of the image above. A few years back I had done a weekly series of backstory videos on some of my most favorite images.

As a side note or more of a personal story: Autumn is my most favorite season of the year. The colors are so beautiful and there is this feeling of bliss (at least for me) in the air, but there is also a feeling of urgency as I know it will not last. And when it is all gone… the colors the feeling, we are left with looking forward to the “The Holiday” season and winter. While the holiday season is filled with lights, parties, gifts, prayers and food, it is not visual. Yes I know there are lights and decorations, but it is all man-made, autumn is nature and nature is a wondrous beauty.  Nature can wreak havoc beyond one’s imagination too, with storms, earthquakes, Tsunamis and so much more. But Autumn is beauty. It was the Autumn of 1984 that I was recovering from a devastating car wreck. I would spend the days sitting in my grandmother’s lawn swing that was located in a small grove of dogwood trees to the side of the driveway. After my grandmother headed off to work, me with my casts, neck brace and crutches I would perform the epic task to move from the house to the swing by myself. I would drag my guitar case slowly behind me with a bathrobe belt as I made the trek. The pain and the danger of falling were the big obstacles, so once in the swing I would remain there most of the day. In my pocket a few small cigars and I would wait for my father’s cousin Carol to come by, she would bring me something from the house to snack on and a big glass of water. Then she would head off to check on my great-grandmother next door as she did everyday. Carol’s visit was the pinnacle of the time spent in the swing and on shopping day she would ask me what I wanted from the store. She said “I’ll get you anything you want, just no booze or cigarettes.” I usually asked for a bag of pretzels and a bottle of soda. Her and Bill came to see me in the hospital right after the accident, they sat and prayed with me. I had so few visitors, just a few family members and one friend, so when Carol & Bill came to see me… I knew it was heartfelt.

So sitting in that swing day after day during the autumn of 84, strumming my guitar, writing songs and a little poetry, smoking a Swisher Sweet cigar and taking in life was a feeling and a memory I’ll never forget. So when autumn arrives I think of all of that and I think of Carol… rest her soul.

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.

On The Road To Ban Khamin (but there is nothing there… or is there?)

_MG_4912-2untitled-Edit

 

I was thinking about all my friends and family in Thailand. Thoughts of this wonderful country road is my happy place. I dream many times of riding down this road on a motorbike. This actual spot is a small junction. I was riding along on a beautiful sunny afternoon (December 2, 2014 at 12:08pm to be exact) and I decided to just stop. I wanted to see what was there. Most people would look around and say “there is nothing here.” There was no houses or buildings just the road and another smaller road (path) the led out into the riceland. But that “nothing” was so much there for me. No traffic, well other than an occasional passer by on foot or motorbike. But most of all it was void of all modern civilization. There was only the sound of 100% pure untouched nature. No planes in the sky, no distant noise of a highway just peacefulness. Now I know we have places like this in the USA and I’m not at all knocking the USA. But to get to a place like this when I was I young boy growing up in Delaware Township all I had to do was walk out my front door. But those days are long gone here in New Jersey and really try and find a place anywhere that you will not at some point hear the distant roar of a jet overhead is really kind of impossible. But this place is about a few minutes away from our house in the village. I love the USA, but how I long for this place to just sit and feel the warm sun on my face and listen to nature.

 

Summertime Memories (the joy & love of nature was with me as a child, although back then it was just everyday life.)

Tiger Lily

So today I would like to talk about two recent photos that are kind of special to me because of the “memory factor” as I like to call it. We all often times look at photos and they bring back memories. We see an old photo of ourselves or family members or maybe even friends and it triggers our mind and we think back to that day or time. It is easy to think back to it because we see the faces or places and it forces the memory. But then there are the other photos that trigger memories and that is what I’m talking about today.

Sometimes we just see an image of something simple and it represents something big in our mind. The two photos in this post represent similar things to me. They may not mean very much to you the reader other than they may look like nice photos. I captured these images on separate days at two totally different locations. Both photos were not planned but rather just a spur of the moment shot. And then during the edit each one triggered or I should say opened a flood gate of memories. Memories, which I never really thought about because they were kind of simple or uneventful.

While editing the photo of the berries I started to drift back in time to when I was a small boy of 8 to 12 years old and I thought about the many times my sisters and I would find the wild berries as we had our adventures playing on the farm. The berries were always plentiful as were the adventures on that farm. Then the memory shifted to a later time as I was in my teens working on tobacco farms in Virginia. Again wild berries were always abundant, whether I was walking down a backwoods dirt road in the beautiful countryside or at the edge of a “baccer patch” (as the locals called it) up on a mountainside. Then as the memory shifted once again to the bicycle path along the Delaware River, either walking or biking I would stop and have a snack. I could even see my girlfriend’s face as we would fight to see who could get the nicest berries. Who would think a simple photo could bring back so much. This really is one of the joys of photography for me on a personal level. Sure I like working with people and covering events, but getting out and taking a walk in nature and just looking for the finer things it has to offer is such a joy.

The Tiger Lily more or less is the same as the berries. It represents summer, hot weather and for me the Tiger Lily most represented “summer freedom” as in NO SCHOOL! Yeah no school! For it is always late June when we see the lilies appear here in New Jersey and that is when school is out for the summer. The lilies were always a backdrop to my meanderings either on bicycle or walking as I made my way up & down the country roads of Delaware Township. And as much as this world around me has changed with all the progression of building houses and making way for the new, the Tiger Lily or “Ditch Lily” as some old timers call them is still here. Not only on the roadside but everywhere, I love them. I think of hot summer days walking to visit my friend John. Yes those were the days and sure I don’t need a Tiger Lily to make me remember those wonderful times but it sure helps set the scene. I have come to realize the joy & love of nature was with me as a child, although back then it was just everyday life. I’m so blessed to have had that life.

Photography Info:

Both images were captured with a Canon 6D using a 70-200mm lens.

Both were edited in Lightroom using very basic adjustments such as contrast, clarity, vibrance and highlights.

The berries were shot at 1/50 of sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 at 200mm 7:04pm.

The Tiger Lily was shot using fill flash set to 1/32 power from an EX430II flash.

Capture was 1/60 of sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 at 102mm 12:21pm.