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.

Perseid Meteor Shower. (Lots of time to sit and just gaze up and out into the universe)

Perseid Meteor Shower

Bulb mode, 27 sec f/4.0 ISO 3200 24mm.

 

Yes I’m running on just a few hours’ sleep after staying out till after 3:30am photographing the Perseid meteor shower. Although I captured many images with meteors it was not at all what I had hoped I would capture. A sky watcher did not have to look in any particular direction, I seen meteors from the east to the northwest. I also saw many straight up above my head. But with that said I wanted to capture an image with just a touch of landscape in it and I just could not get a really bright meteor in any of my captures.

I did not have to travel far to set up my camera, I put my gear in the car and drove up the hill to the back field on the farm where I live and I had a great view of the sky. I was on top of a hill and other than a silo I had a view of the whole sky. I set up about 10:30pm and after about twenty minutes of test shot and getting my setting correct I was firing away. I used a shutter release which I had programmed for a 27 second shutter opening. I know after about 28 seconds the stars will move enough to cause noticeable streaks in the image or “star trails” as most people would call them. However I did not want star trails on this night. I put the camera in Bulb mode and I varied my ISO and aperture depending on which lens I was using. My ISO range was 800 to 3200. It changed as the night went on.

Although I did not get a really nice image like I hoped I would get I did have a lot of fun. I have a Dodge Durango that is perfect for working out of the back of the vehicle. The back door opens upward and this keeps the night dew from settling directly on me. The camera on the other hand was getting dew after a few hours and that is easily handled by placing a towel over the camera. The lens did well for about 30 minutes and then I would switch out from the 24mm to the 50mm, keeping one lens warm and dry while the other is on camera worked great.

It was so nice to have a camera with a WiFi connection because after the camera was set and the shutter release turned on I could just sit and view the images coming in on my tablet. I had the music playing low and it was a very peaceful night. I was alone and that made it more peaceful. Lots of time to sit and just gaze up and out into the universe, something I have not done in a while. The last time I was able to just sit and gaze at the stars (no photography) was last November while I was on Ko Chang in the Gulf of Thailand. I had really bad jet lag and sat outside a few nights and gazed the stars and drifted away into thoughts about everything and anything while the nighttime sound of the jungle played in my head.

So in the end I did capture one image that I liked enough to post. Looking to the northwest I captured this image at 3:07am using a 24-105mm lens. My camera was set to Bulb mode, 27 sec f/4.0 ISO 3200 24mm. My edit was made in Lightroom CC and just a touch of Photoshop to remove a dust spot and tone down the yellow lights rising up from the distant highway.

Thanks for reading and have a great day. J

The Great Outdoors (Not too hard to do, unless you’re holding over $5000 the water.)

Krista In the Creek  1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm, radio speedlight 1/2 power in a 26" Rapid Box

Krista In the Creek
1/60 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm (no flash)

 

Shooting with Krista Obrien was truly a lot of fun and very trying at times. Most of the day was spent capturing outdoor images that include moving water in the background. Moving water in hilly or mountainous streams, our first location seemed harmless as it was a short walk from the parking area to the river front. The actual location was where Pine Creek leads from Sunrise Lake into the Lehigh River. While moving around the river front and fighting with the harsh midday sun I spotted a waterfalls up the creek. So we decided to move to this area hoping for better more even light. This really changes the intensity of the photo shoot, as to now I go from fighting sunlight causing harsh shadows to fighting the dappled light of the forest. But more so now I have Krista navigating the stin camera gear. Knowing one slip could smash or drown the camera. But it was all good, Krista was fearless as any young outdoor enthusiast would be and she really wanted to play in steep rocky stream while I’m navigating the steep banks on the side of the stream and then walking out on rocks in the stream. Not too hard to do, unless you’re holding over $5000 the water. I being an outdoors lover and hiker was more than willing to do what I had to do to position myself for the shots, I just had to be cautious of the camera and might I add all while using off camera flash in some of the shots. I love radio flash and the Westcott Rapid Box for this type of shoot was perfect.

So as you can see from some of the photos we were able to capture great images in a very remote area that most photographers would only trek to for Landscape shots. As a side note: you must have total confidence in letting your subject do this kind of navigating and you must have the utmost confidence in where you are putting your foot every time you take a step and what your leaning on or sitting on while shooting. Krista did take a tumble in the water at one point and while it looked bad it was merely nothing at all. So the locations varied from river front, to rushing water, to a very steep high angle cave entrance to sitting on a log the extended over water and sometimes just sitting on rocks. A lot of fun for sure and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

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.