Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2011

Most of the floating debris had gone and the water was clear — well, as clear as the Delaware River gets in our neck of the woods. I could see the bottom in the shallow water from the Red Bank Battlefield Park pier, so…

Click to enlarge

I took this photo looking almost straight down into the water. The reflections are subtle, the patterns abstract and the image is mostly mid tones. I have a polarizer that’s designed for use with color film (it incorporates a warming filter) so I’ve never tried it with B&W film.

I’ve been experimenting with my workflow. I did my editing with the Gimp instead of Picture Window Pro. I used smart sharpening with the refocus plug-in enabled and ended up with more texture (over sharpened?) than I would accept normally but I decided I liked the effect this time.

PS — The first few comments got me to thinking about the texture of the water so I decided to make another version of the image and post it…

Click to enlarge

I scanned this version as a 16 bit tiff file and did all my transformations with Picture Window Pro. This version is softer because I sharpened conservatively the way I usually do. The original histogram looks like the Washington monument — lots of mid tones but very little shadow or highlight. I did a modest local contrast enhancement, then I pulled the curve down a little to darken the image. I tweaked the curve again with a small contrast adjustment to the midtones. Finally I used USM at 50%, radius = 1 and threshold =2. That’s all. I converted the image to 8 bit, added my watermark with the Gimp and saved the file as a jpeg.

The texture is still there but much softer. I think the texture was in the water itself or under the surface, probably the latter. If I remember correctly, the river bottom was covered with vegetation. I think this second image is an improvement. The sharpening in the first was a bit over the top and not what I usually do. It gave the image a roughness that suggests a drawing rather than a photo. Which is the better? I like both.

Read Full Post »

With film photography you take your best shot and move on to the next. I follow my instincts and compose in the viewfinder. There’s no temptation to what-if an image until the roll of film is completed and processed. I took six photos during my latest trip to Ceres this past Monday and I’m pleased with all six — I’d call that a rich harvest.

Click to enlarge

This first shot was taken on the ridge trail, not far from where it branches from the main trail. The narrow ridge trail takes the high ground to the east of the two lakes in Ceres, eventually linking to the main trail around the south end of Emerald Lake.

I used my spot meter to check shadows and highlights and was rewarded with what I consider a near perfect exposure. The photo matched my vision of the scene: textured shadows, soft light and rich mid-tones.

Click to enlarge

This shot is busy, busy with light, life and shadows. You might see a peek of the lake below through the trees.

Click to enlarge

Look familiar? This scene was taken on a low portion of the trail at the bottom of a steep slope. I shot this same scene back in the spring using the same camera and lens but the mood here is much different. It was dark under the heavy leaf canopy this time. I was after the light spilling down the slope and the rich shadows and textures. I do like the way the trees cling with their exposed roots and climb the slope.

From here I took a shortcut across a swampy area between the two lakes. The trail crosses the water on two short wooden plank bridges. I kept moving because the mosquitoes were thick. When I got back to the main trail I did stop to take two photos of the cedar swamp that I posted yesterday.

Click to enlarge

I cut across another shortcut here (this time a dry one) and saw this stump, forest debris and small pools of light on the forest floor. I couldn’t resist taking one last photo before leaving Ceres for the day.

As often as I’ve travelled the trails in Ceres, each time is different. I walk quietly and pay attention — this visit rewarded me with a rich harvest of images.

Read Full Post »

Monday morning was sunny and cool — boots, jeans and light jacket weather — perfect for a much needed visit to Ceres Nature Preserve. With all the rain we’ve had lately I wasn’t about to go unprotected into the forest or swamp, home territory of the infamous NJ mosquito (and ticks).

Click to enlarge

I left the relative protection of the open trail to get this shot. I wanted to go deeper and get a few more photos but the mosquitos buzzing around my ears had me scrambling back to the trail. I escaped unscathed.

Click to enlarge

I stood on the edge of the trail for one last shot from this section of the cedar swamp before moving on. I’ll go back another day when there’s a stiff breeze to help keep the bugs away and cool enough to wear boots, jeans and a jacket.

Both images were taken with my 50mm SMC Takumar screw mount lens and Legacy Pro 100 (aka Fuji Acros) film. The ISO was 160, a bit low for the dim lighting under the tree canopy so I couldn’t stop down as much as I wanted. I didn’t bring my tripod because the mosquitos would have eaten me alive before I got the first shot off. I don’t wear mosquito repellant because I won’t put that toxic junk on my skin.

Read Full Post »

Edwards Run, Chestnut Branch and Mantua Creek are all part of the Delaware River watershed. Even the small stream running at the back of our property empties into this watershed via Chestnut Branch.

Click to enlarge

I took this photo one morning last spring while walking and photographing along the 9/11 trail in Chestnut Branch Park near my home in Mantua Township, NJ. This small stream probably has no name but I’m sure it empties into the Chestnut Branch which runs along the edge of Chestnut Branch Park.

Most people never notice the small streams as they whiz over the numerous bridges at 40 to 50 mph in their cars. I know I didn’t until I started riding my bicycle on these same roads five years ago. Even on a bicycle I can hit 25 to 30 mph as the road dips down steeply to cross the streams.

Sometimes I’ll stop near one of the bridges to have a closer look and maybe take a few pictures. The best locations for getting close to nature and the streams are on the park trails, in either Ceres Nature Preserve or Chestnut Branch Park.

I was the only person on the trail that morning when I shot the photo of the small stream. The only sounds were the birds, the rustling of the trees and the sound of the water. It was delicious and I hope this picture helps you taste that moment.

Read Full Post »

Tracy and I have been pulling prints out of our family albums and tracking down old negatives for my next photo book project. I want to share a couple of nice photographs we found.

Click to enlarge

This photo was taken on Christmas, 1976. Here’s Erin, our eldest, sleeping peacefully after a rough day opening presents. She was a month shy of three years.

Click to enlarge

This photo was taken in July, 1976. Erin loved her new shoes so much she refused to take them off — even for nap time.

I scanned the first image from the original color negatives. I found 20 color negatives from Christmas, 1976 and scanned them the winter before last. The negatives are old and dirty and the scans were poor. I spent several hours Sunday night hunting down the negatives and re-scanned them using my Epson V600 scanner and VueScan this time. Big difference.

The scanner’s infrared channel gave me clean scans and VueScan did a great job with the colors. VueScan is noted for the quality of scans from color negatives.

The second image was scanned from a print using the V600 with VueScan.

Read Full Post »

Tracy and I were married on September 11, 1971. Today, September 11, 2011 marks our 40th anniversary. I made a photo book as a surprise gift for Tracy and managed to keep it a secret until this morning. Tracy loves her book.


Here’s the cover showing Tracy and I leaving the Church, St. Francis de Sales in West Phila. after the ceremony.


This photo was taken on my late sister Ann’s graduation day in June, 1970. Tracy and Ann were good friends. Ann was Tracy’s maid of honor.


I took this portrait of Tracy sometime in 1971 before we were married.


I think my brother Michael took this picture of me. It’s been such a long time now.


This is my favorite photo of my late brother Michael. He was my best man. I think I handed my camera to Michael after I took this shot and he’s the one who took the previous picture of yours truly.

There are ten more pictures in the photo book, eight scanned from our wedding album along with photos of Tracy holding each of our two infant daughters that I took in 1974 and 1976 respectively.

Creating this photo book, “New Beginnings: Tracy & John” was a labor of love and a special gift that will last for generations. Maybe I’ll do flowers again next year.

Read Full Post »

It was one of those special summer afternoons — blue sunny skies, low humidity, comfortable temperature and a refreshing breeze — perfect. I had taken a few pictures out on the pier a few more of the pier. I took a picture of the couple sitting on the bench from behind, not wishing to disturb them and respecting their privacy.  That shot, next to the last on the roll, turned out OK but nothing exceptional. I thought I was done for the day.

Click to enlarge

I was walking along the path to the steps leading to the upper level. I had one frame left. I turned and composed this uncropped shot to ‘use up’ the film. I liked this image enough to include it on the last page of a new photo book I made recently: “On the River: Red Bank Battlefield Park.”

Funny how things can turn out. I was prepared to ‘waste’ the final frame so I could develop and scan a roll of film and the photo was one of two keepers on that roll. This image shows how B&W film can capture a wide range of tones. I like the play of light and shadow, how the curving lines of the path lead the eye to the couple on the bench and to the pier. This photo would not have been as successful without the couple on the bench. They add both scale and humanity to the scene. Did I mention that I like this image? LOL

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »