Archive for October, 2012

IN THE FIELD: Before The Storm 2

October 31, 2012 26 comments

This past weekend I ventured out to capture some autumn color before the hurricane swept through the area.

Before even leaving our property, I stopped to photograph the spirea bushes in one of our garden beds. They always put on a spectacular show of flowers in the spring, and in the fall the leaves turn brilliant orange and red.

Tuesday morning I headed outside and walked the property to asses the damage from the storm. It was still windy and raining, but the majority of the storm had passed. And just as I figured, the wind and torrential rain had stripped the bush of all it’s leaves. I’m glad we were able to enjoy the marvelous color for a week or so this autumn season.

I composed this shot with one of our cherry laurels in the foreground to add some balance in color and contrast.

Photo specs 80mm, 1/30th @ f8


IN THE FIELD: Before The Storm

October 29, 2012 29 comments

Saturday morning I ventured out to capture more of the autumn color surrounding us here in the woods where I live. I figured it may be my last opportunity before it was all swept away from the massive storm headed our way.

The skies were overcast and provided a perfect even light. I was able to use shutter speeds of 1/60 of a second and slower. I also used a polarizing filter, which greatly improved the saturation of color, and eliminated the reflections from the leaves.

I found some brilliant maples with white pines as a background. I also found a stand of young beech trees showing three different phases of their color transformation.

At the time of this posting, hurricane Sandy is just beginning to make her presence known. It’s been showering off and on since Sunday afternoon, but now the rain is steady. It’s not raining sideways yet…that’s due to occur later today and into tonight, along with increased winds and heavier amounts of rainfall. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get some shots before the storm unleashes it’s fury.


IN THE FIELD: It’s A Bit Windy Out There

October 26, 2012 29 comments

Weather forecasters have been tracking Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic ocean. She is scheduled to blow through our region this weekend. High winds and huge amounts of rain are predicted, even as far inland where I live.

In this part of Pennsylvania, we still have a good amount of colorful autumn leaves on the trees. But more than likely, the trees will be stripped bare from Sandy’s wrath.

A few days ago, I attempted to illustrate what it will look like around here with the wind and rain blowing through the trees. I figured by driving along our back-country roads, holding the camera out the window and capturing motion shots of the autumn leaves, just may give me a pretty good idea.

Since I was driving, I wasn’t be able to check exposure settings, so I set the camera to aperture priority. I chose an aperture setting of 2.8 and let the camera do the rest. I also set the shooting mode to continuous.

When I came upon an area I felt had potential, I held the camera out the window and pressed the shutter. And this is what I got.


IN THE FIELD: Stormy Weather And Great Light

October 24, 2012 24 comments

A few days ago, I was driving past our local orchard as it was just starting to drizzle. Which wasn’t surprising, since heavy rain was forecast for the early part of the morning.

I was passing the rows of peach trees, and the color of the leaves under the overcast sky was too much to resist. I had to pull over get a few pictures….before the skies let loose, the wind kicked up and stripped the trees of all that color.

Shooting under overcast conditions can provide fantastic light for more saturated color. The clouds act as a diffuser, and sometimes just before the rain starts, the light will get brighter. This allows for lower ISO settings and faster shutter speeds. It doesn’t always happen this way, but when it does, it’s a great opportunity to capture great light.

Camera settings for both photos were ISO 200, cloudy White Balance, 1/100 @ f3.5. Handheld.


October 22, 2012 19 comments

As you all know, I have this thing for old rusty machinery. In our nearby town is this old semi-trailer that was originally built in the late 1940’s. It’s been undisturbed and parked next to a creek for at least 20 years. I was photographing the play of early morning sunlight on the rusty parts as well as the areas of peeling paint.

The back doors are chained shut and secured with an ancient padlock. I have to wonder why the trailer is locked, and what kind of treasures may be stashed inside.

Photo specs. 35mm lens, ISO 100, f3.5 @ 1/40th handheld

IN THE FIELD: The Views Were Worth It

October 19, 2012 34 comments

Quite a few years ago, I went on a weekend hiking trip with a few of my friends on part of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. We started the hike in Port Clinton and headed up the mountain and east to our destination, which is an overlook named the Pinnacle. It is perched high on the top of Blue Mountain, near the Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary.

In our haste to go hiking in super October weather, we neglected to do prudent research about this part of the trail. A few steps from the trailhead begins an almost vertical climb up. The trail consisted of pebbles, stones, rocks, boulders, and tree roots, with a sprinkling of gravel mixed in for good measure. Looking back, it would have been better to do this part of the trail during daylight hours rather than starting at 10:00pm. The flashlights we were carrying were feeble at best and barely illuminated the treacherous path in front of us.

After about an hour and a half of slipping and sliding, numerous scrapes and falls, we made it to the crest of the mountain to set up camp and rest for the night. Finding a flat spot on the top of a mountain is a comedy of errors, so we set up right on the trail. We figured the odds of another group of hikers coming by in the middle of the night were slim.

We awoke a few hours later, emerged from our tent, and were stunned to see how we had perched ourselves on the crest of the mountain yet somehow managed to stay there all night.

After eating breakfast on that glorious Autumn morning, we strapped on our backpacks and continued on our way. Five and a half miles later we met a few hikers coming the opposite direction. We chatted about trail conditions and they told us we should have an easy day of hiking. Knowing what was ahead of them, we advised them to lace up their boots tightly and find a walking stick for balance. We suggested climbing ropes for the way down would be handy also.

A few miles later we stopped for lunch. While dining on our rations, a man ran past us on the trail with no backpacking gear. We thought that was odd. Where did he come from and how did he get there? A few minutes later, another man ran by dressed in some official looking uniform. He stopped and asked if we had seen anyone. We advised him of the direction the first man was headed. The uniformed man sped off down the trail. Where did these two people come from and why did they not appear to be tired or out of breath. We were after all on top of a mountain.

We made our second camp a few hundred yards from the Pinnacle lookout in the daylight hours, thinking it would be easier to find a level spot to put the tent. Amazingly it was. Then we gathered our camera gear and headed out to the lookout to enjoy the views and watch the variety of migrating birds soar on the updrafts.

Another oddity of this trip was seeing a few dozen people at the lookout freshly bathed and in clean clothes. They had driven up to the sanctuary and took the relaxing stroll to the pinnacle overlook. Wimps.

I don’t recall the camera settings I used for this shot, but I do know I used a zoom lens. The farm buildings you see are several miles away from the lookout. I really like the patchwork of colors and patterns created by the harvested fields and those that are still green.

IN THE FIELD: It’s Harvest Time

October 12, 2012 31 comments

I found these dried corn stalks and ears of corn tied up in bunches at a farmers market. They are a common sight in this area since they are used for decoration during the Autumn season.

It was late morning when I took this photograph and I was lucky to find some bundles brightened by sidelight. This allowed me to capture definition in the shadow areas without blowing out the highlights. Using a diffuser would have toned down the highlights a bit and the shot would have been more mellow, but in this particular instance I wanted to feature the warmth of the sunlight.

Camera settings used were ISO 100, WB-cloudy, 1/640th@3.2, 35mm lens, handheld.

IN THE FIELD: Intertwined

October 10, 2012 16 comments

Last week I had my Jeep checked out for the annual inspection we have here in Pennsylvania. While the guys were working on my trusty vehicle, I went for a walk about town to take advantage of the early morning sunshine.

I ended up in the area where several antique dealers have set up shops. None of them would open for another two hours, so everything of interest was locked up inside. Lucky for me though, one dealer left a bunch of stuff outside overnight.

I came across this huge macrame’ wall hanging stretched between two wooden rods, propped up by some old wooden posts. I couldn’t resist getting a shot of the golden color of the twine that was intensified by the warm sunlight

Specs. ISO 100, White Balance-Cloudy, 1/1600th @ f3.5, 35mm lens, Handheld

IN THE FIELD: Look At ‘em All!

October 9, 2012 29 comments

I know the great pumpkin is here somewhere!

HOW TO: Indoor Tornado

October 5, 2012 18 comments

Earlier this week we had heavy rain storms come through the area. It was raining so hard and for so long, even I didn’t venture outside with the camera. No sense risking damage to expensive equipment when photography can be done inside under more favorable conditions.

It was so gloomy outside from the heavy cloud cover, darkening a room in the house for my photography experiment was pretty easy. After setting everything up, I closed the curtains and the door to the studio and got started.

Here’s how I produced this photo. I mounted the camera on the tripod and pre-focused on an area about five to seven feet away from the lens by taking a picture of myself. I then turned off the auto focus and set camera to manual focus. Then I set the shutter at 15 seconds, and the aperture was set at f8. I figured this was as good a place to start as any. I then set the self timer for a five second delay to give me time to get in position.

I turned off the lights, turned on the light source, tripped the shutter, moved in front of the camera, and started twirling my the light before the shutter opened. I continued to swing the lights around until I heard the shutter close, because the camera’s sensor will pick up any movement of the light.

What did I use for a light source you ask? It’s simple and inexpensive. Under six dollars, actually. I bought some battery operated LED finger rings resembling oversized jewels at a party supply store for two dollars each. I found a piece of string about six feet long and tied on some washers for added weight to one end of the string, and slid two rings down the string to rest on the washers.

Creating patterns is the fun part. Swing the light horizontally in a tight pattern in the beginning and gradually let the string slip through your fingers to allow the circles to get bigger to make a cone shape. Or swing the string vertically or any which way to create wild patterns of light. Experiment with different shutter times to see how the light changes.

I found through my many attempts at this, just how sensitive the camera is. Keeping the light pattern as consistent as possible is the hard part. It took many tries before I was able to keep from bumping the light into my legs or the desk or….some other obstacle. After a while, the light patterns stayed in a relatively circular pattern. But it took some practice.

Now that the weather has changed for the better, I’ll be heading back outside to do some more experiments using really long exposures and try to capture some ambient night light along with my artificial light. Woo-hoo!