Monday, November 24, 2008

Five Things Meme

I was tagged by fellow photoblogger Shawn Duffy (thanks Shawn) for the Five Things Meme making its way through the ‘Net so here are my responses:

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago

1) Working at The Catholic University of America
2) Was enjoying being a newlywed (still am enjoying it)
3) Studying for my Ph.D. comprehensive exams (medieval history - which I passed yippee)
4) Building a web site for my Dad's business
5) Dreaming of going back to Scotland within 5 years.

5 Things On My To-Do List Today

1) Get the house ready for guests coming for Thanksgiving
2) Get my RTCs closed so I can enjoy the holiday
3) Upload 5 images to MPix so I can get some of my pictures up in the new house
4) Organize my office
5) Replace the bandage on my finger where I sliced it last night

5 Snacks I Like

1) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (gotta agree with Shawn on this one)
2) 20oz Mocha in a huge coffee mug with whipped cream from the Blue Frog
3) Popcorn
4) Starbucks Gingerbread Latte (now I just need to drive into Ithaca to get one)
5) Fiber One bars (oats and chocolate)

extra - it has been suggested that I add Diet Coke to this list since I drink about a 12 pack every day and a half but to me Diet Coke is a way of life and not a snack.

5 Things I Would Do If I Was A Millionaire

1) Buy a bunch of photo equipment
2) Save my kid's education
3) Renovate our house
4) Donate more to charity
5) Buy a ranch in New Mexico

5 Places I Have Lived (For Various Lengths Of Time)

1) Northern VA (various locations)
2) Williamsburg, VA
3) Charlottesville, VA (various locations)
4) Flint, MI
5) Downers Grove, IL

extra - Maynooth Ireland; Ann Arbor, MI; Fenton, MI; Kokomo, IN

5 Jobs I Have Had

1) Archaeologist
2) Manager of a Little Caesar's pizza
3) Office cleaner
4) Optometrist's assistant
5) Freelance web developer

5 People I Tag

1) Anita
2) Brian
3) Mark
4) Markus
5) David

Frozen Pumpkin

Saturday morning we awoke to the first sizable snow fall this season. It was great to get out and play in the snow, though even now we still were not completely ready for it. Rowan did not have snow boots yet, and I had not gotten gas for the snow blower (Troy warned me). But the kids and I had fun running around, taking pictures, shoveling snow, and drink hot chocolate.

As for the frozen pumpkin, this is another HDR image combining 3 shots in Photomatix. I was surprised to see when I processed this that I had actually managed to keep the stem in a green area and not bleed into the brown spots. I think that works well. I am still playing with this whole HDR thing. I am going to try some of Jeff Revell's techniques to see what else I can pull out of these images.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun in the Leaves

It has been a while since I posted any kid pictures. So I went back a bit to find this image of Duncan playing in the leaves this fall. It's funny, we have had snow all week (just enough to make everything look very pretty) and now it feels like winter and not like fall, even though this image is only a few weeks old. Duncan was helping me gather up leaves. He decided to sweep them up, and then play in the pile, getting very dirty in the process (yes that is dirt all over his face). I wish I had policed my background and removed the broom before taking this picture but oh well. It is a reminder that he wanted to sweep instead of rake the leaves.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last of the Fall Apples

I stopped to take images of the fog bank, which you can see in the background, but saw an apple tree next to the road. I noticed this one apple left on the tree and in the right spot to let me get both it and the interesting fog together. Unlike many of the images recently, this one is not a high dynamic range image. I tried it but could not get one that I liked. I ended up feeling that just this straight shot processed in Lightroom worked best.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crows, Crows, Crows

One of the interesting things I have found in living here in Cortland in the fall are the crows. I have never in my life seen flocks of crows like those that roost in the trees behind my house. The picture above shows just a small group of them doing what they do during the day, go into the fields around town to eat their fill. At night, as the Sun begins to set they come back into town. They roost in the trees around our house as this is one of the warmest places for them in town. It is in a small sheltered valley and near the downtown where there are a number of businesses and parking lots that keep things just a bit warmer.

Now I have seen flocks of birds before but nothing has prepared me for this. The trees are fully of hundreds if not thousands of crows. I am not exaggerating. This has been such a big problem that the city is starting to implement sounds deterrence measures to try to get them to leave. When the flock comes in, it is an amazing sight. They have been so loud some mornings that they have woken us up. It is crazy.

I guess it is just one of those things that you have to find out about by living in a place.

Oh, one thing about this image is that it is a high dynamic range image but it is not my usual three separate exposures combined into one image. This is actually one RAW image that was adjusted three times to give me the base, and then over and under exposed images. This allowed me to keep the birds (they were moving fast and three separate images would simply have not worked for them) and still allowed me to pull a lot of extra detail out. Anyway, something new for me to play around with. I need to get Noise Ninja or something but not bad.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lake Como Road Barn in Storm

On Sunday I went up to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge to attend a small nature photography seminar. The weather was a bit gloomy with snow showers predicted for the afternoon and evening (in fact all this week). As I got up out of town, I noticed the clouds breaking up in places. I stopped along the way to catch some images of sun dappled landscapes with interesting clouds flying by. As I came down a long hill into Cayuga County, I noticed this barn up the next hill. The sun was setting it aglow, and I knew I had to try to get some shots. As I pulled over and got my camera out, the clouds rolled past and blocked the sun. So I waited. In weather like this I knew I would only have to wait a little while. I kept watch further up the hill and watched as the next opening slid over and took my images. I was able to get a few different versions as I waited for each new opening.

I love weather like this. Bright subject in sunlight with dark brooding clouds behind. Things always seem to be at the crispest during those times.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Semi-Circle Cave

I guess it was a time to break a bit from all the pretty scenery, at least for a day. This image appeals to me because of the strong shapes and lines which are counteracted by the soft puffiness of the clouds. I thought about trying to take this more straight on to the opening but then I would have lost the shadows to a large extent. I like the small rounded piece of light in the corner with the lines of in the cave showing up just a bit. These lines seem to work nicely as a counterpoint to the strong horizontal lines of the brickwork. The series of vertical bricks and the top of the wall work together to frame the opening. All this strength and monochromatic look of the wall and cave seems to be well countered by the competing monochromatic but soft look of the clouds. I also feel the picture is in balance because of the two thirds sky and one third building. The building is the bottom, which puts the weight in the right spot. The opening is lined up centered left to right and just about top to bottom. I also think the gap of blue between the building and the clouds is needed to give each some space and not make it crowded.

Ok, ok. Enough already.

Most of this description was to help me put into words why I was drawn to this image. I am reading George Barr's Take Your Photography to the Next Level and these sorts of exercises are in there. It does help to think things through more deeply to see what we are attracted to and why.

So what is this a picture of? This is the entrance to our local Tops grocery store. Just below the opening in the wall is the entrance into the store. So this is just there to let some light in and give some architectural detail to what would otherwise be blank. I took this while sitting in the car waiting for my wife to come back out (kids were asleep in their seats). This is a high dynamic range image bracketing +/- 1 1/3 stops in each direction, which is my standard when hand holding the camera.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunday Ride

I passed this group of bike riders out near Skaneateles Lake a few times as I drove around. They seemed to be having a great time being out and about in the cool clear morning air. The hill they are about to crest takes them down a steep road all the way to the lake. I cannot imagine doing it on a bike, but I guess it was at least downhill instead of the other way.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Uphill Skier

Walking back to my car after visiting Tinker Falls, I noticed this lady out getting ready for ski season. She had skies with wheels and was going down the road (but up the hill) at a good pace. I thought to myself that this was something I would only expect to see "up North" here. I considered trying to cut down the shine of the sun on the road, but I decided to leave it because I like how it makes the road look like a ski slope covered in a layer of snow. Maybe it is just me.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grave of Brig. Gen. Babcock

"Brvt. Brig. Gen. Willoughby Babcock Wounded at the Battle of Wincester, VA., Sept 19, 1864, Died Oct. 6, AE 32 Y'rs."

Gen. Babcock is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Homer, NY, which is only a few miles from my house. I was taken aback by the sense of connection that I had with him when I saw his grave. Here was a man who was born and is buried near where I live. I have been to the place where he met his fate at the battlefield near Winchester, not too far from where I lived in NoVA. Stumbling upon his grave near my new home connected me to this far off place and time again. I know how far Winchester is from here and how far the Civil War is from our time. The distance he had traveled from his family and the years that have passed since his life were clear to me.

So in the end, on this our Veteran's Day, I wanted to post an image that shows my appreciation for the veteran's of our country. I know how far they go and how long they have travelled.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cemetery Fence at Dawn

Willow Glen Cemetery, outside of Dryden, has a beautiful ornate Victorian entrance and front fence. I stopped by one morning to get some images, as it was one of the first places I put on my list when we came up here. The fall colors and the red fence seemed to work very well together.

Just this weekend though we drove by here, and, much to my horror, someone had cut down the tree in the right of the image by the big post. Someone had cut down another tree in the same position but on the other side of the driveway. These trees must have been 75-100 years old given their size. They both seemed very healthy because they were full of leaves. It is really too bad. I wish I knew why.

I will never again be able to take this picture or enjoy the scene like it is here. Just goes to show - take the picture now and don't wait. You never know what might change.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Frozen Autumn

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, last Sunday was a very cold morning. The frost lingered one, especially in the darker areas, for quite some time. While at Montezuma NWR, I went for a short hike and came across this leaf that was still covered in frost and was just starting to get some sunlight. I am not sure I quite hit the focus as well as I would have liked since I was using my 100-300mm lens which has a longish minimum focusing distance. I really like how the leaf is rimmed in the thick white frost. This time of year is so interesting to see the seasons change way and start to blend together.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Great Blue Heron at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

Here is my first shot from Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I was able to get an HDR shot since this guy was just standing perfectly still. In the distance you can see all the geese and ducks that were there at the Main Pool.

I am playing around with the display of my images on the blog. I have not been happy with just slapping them up. I don't feel like they are really finished that way. So I am going to try a few different styles to see what works for me. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Frosty Field at Dawn

On Sunday, I got up early and decided to head up to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which is about an hour from the house. That morning it was 24 degrees out when I left and a heavy frost had settled over the area. As I drove down the road out of town, I noticed this farm covered in frost with the Sun just beginning to illuminate the pasture. I turned around and came back to take some shots. In VA we never really seemed to get frost like this or if we did it did not linger very long.

In looking more at this image and thinking about why I came back, I have to say I was drawn by the light to start with. But later, I began to see some patterns which were interesting:

  • The three bands in the various grounds of the image, white close in, green and gold in the middle and dark in the back.
  • The feeling of cold and the crunch of the frost on the trees and grass close in.
  • The golden line of grass running across the pasture that is just lit up by the Sun. But the Sun is not yet high enough to brighten the field to the right.
  • The random and yet full pattern of hay bales around the pasture.
Anyway, just something that catch my eye when I look into the image more closely. There are something that I am not completely happy with either, lack of sharpness throughout given the f stop I had to use for one (should have gotten out the tripod). The white sky through the trees on the left for another. But all in all, I like it and will have to go back by the field again. Likely though the hay bales will be gone, which is why you sometimes just have to get the shot now and not wait.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Skaneateles Fall

Another great Sunday out this weekend but I don't yet have any pictures ready from this trip. So I am going back to the other weekend when I went out to Skaneateles. The clarity of the water is shocking/amazing/awesome. I like the warm/cool contrast of the colors.

Thanks for stopping by.