Finding Nemo – I found him!! 11 Feb 2013

Wow!  What a storm!  I was lucky enough to receive 3-4 feet of snow!  Well, lucky in that I have a good shovel, a 4wd truck, and a back strong enough to shovel a few hundred feet of driveway.

Well, anyway, I survived, didn’t loose power, and took a break after shoveling to break out my camera and enjoy the winter wonderland :)  On Sunday I took a few moments to visit a small beach to see what snow on the beach was like.

Please let me know what you think of these photos!

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Day 348 (13 Dec 2012) Star Trails, or Lessons Learned

So the night of the 13th ended up having an amazing meteor shower!  I saw lots and lots, from really bright to dim in the two hours I was out watching.  Prior to going out I planned my shoot to a T, I thought: I found an image stacker designed to make star trails from individual images (the best way to make them w/o lots of noise or being affected as much by light pollution), had my camera settings set, used a dark sky site to find the darkest area around here, located several candidate sites, make a thermos of hot coco, dressed in LOTs of layers (it was 24F / -4C), put toe warmers in my boots, packed a sleeping bag to wrap in if needed, loaded all my camera gear (inc. the wired remote) and headed out.

First lesson learned: remember to pack my camp chair!  I wasn’t going to foul up my sleeping bag on the rocks/dirt.  Second: don’t forget to put the extra hand warmer on my lens.  I brought an extra for that reason to keep it from icing.  I forgot till too late.  Third: it appears most meteors are visible around the horizon (I didn’t catch any in an hour, yet saw dozens).  I pointed at the Gemini constellation, as thats where I read most would start from, which was almost straight up.  Also, pointing up more exposes your front lens element to space more, which will cause it to cool to colder than the air and get ice/condensation faster (leave a comment if you want the science behind this, and I’ll explain)  Fourth: a scraggly tree does not provide a good foreground subject against streaks of light.  Fifth: don’t knock over your glass-lined thermos on the rocks, because the glass inside will break :(  Sixth, and maybe most important: DO NOT stop the camera sequence, unless you want to start completely over.  Notice the gaps in the trails?  Those each are from a 30ish second gap in shooting.  I had do delete one image because a car drove by and illuminated the tree.  Pulling out the aircraft light images make it look a lot worse due to a lot more gaps.

So, I count this expedition a success!  Yes, my image isn’t what I hoped for, but the next one will have some more knowledge to do this better :)  Like not setting up near a road, being more careful w/ my thermos, setting up the camera pointing in a better position and leaving it alone!

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The software I used for this is StarStax.  Click on the link to get it!

Day 340 (5 Dec 2012) Power

On my way to class I thought I found a  great thing to shoot; I saw a large electrical substation that was lit up (for security), and the way the light fell on the shapes of the components was compelling!  I took a few minutes during class to look at it on Google Earth to see where I could park and get close to shoot.

So after class I drove the short distance, but after parking, I felt there was too much traffic and someone might think I looked suspicious shooting a large electrical distribution center at night, so I chickened out.  But across the street was a power line cut in which several different types of power lines ran.  It looked kinda neat as I was standing there in the cold wind, so I set up my tripod and made several exposures.

Between the dead weeds, mixed lighting, and busy scene, I wasn’t thrilled with the results.  I did a black & white conversion with some cropping and a little cloning, but it’s not how I pictured it in my minds eye.  The alternating light and dark sections of the wires (from the multiple passing cars) is distracting to me, and I did not do a good job in establishing a singular point of focus.  I will chalk this up as a learning experience and choose my composition better next time :)

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I have to admit, its a lot easier to say “I don’t like that image” about one I made than it is to actually spell out what it is exactly that I feel I didn’t do well at in creating it.  I’ve never been good at proofing my own work (writing, etc), and it’s not different in photography.  But from what I’ve read, and from my (minuscule) experience, it’s one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your photography (other than practice).  So I challenge you to on occasion look at a final image you have created and critique it; whether it’s one you love or one you are not fond of.  Figure out what it is about it that you love/hate!  It’s HARD! But worth it :)

UPDATE (2 min later): Right as I was about to hit “publish” for this post, I recieved an email from Flickr (where this image is hosted) stating someone had marked this one as a “favorite.”  I don’t know why; maybe they just randomly do that to drive traffic to their images or maybe they really like it?  What do you think?

Day 338 (3 Dec 2012) Sunrise in the fog

This was one of those mornings we have here in New England where a warm, humid day is followed by a cool night, resulting in patches of dense fog.  There is something about fog that lends an air of mystery to the landscape, that just draws me into it.  I just want to enter in and see what it’s hiding my sight.

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Mystery In The Field

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Morning Fog

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Morning Commute

This project is winding down, with less than a month to go!!  I’m excited about that fact!  This has been a HUGE commitment, more than I could have ever imagined when I began 338 days ago.  While I’m on track to meet my goal of taking a photo every day, other goals have been pushed aside to reach this one (most notably my goal to read 24 books this year, I might get to 16-18).  However, I have learned A LOT and my skill has improved more so in the last year than the all the previous years combined!  From my photography side of things, it has been worth it, but overall, taking into account the time I should have been studying, reading, doing house/yard work, etc, I’m not sure.  And to be honest, I’m not sure it matters at this point.

I will not be doing another 365 project in 2013, but I will still be very active with my camera still!  I will spend a lot more time learning and studying techniques, learning more about editing, and not feeling the pressure to come up with an idea at 10pm when I should be sleeping, just to say I shot that day.  If you have a lot of time, or really want to improve your photography, I do recommend a 365 project.  If you don’t have a lot of time, a 52 project (one a week) might be more fitting.

Now as this project approaches completion, I am looking for an idea for my last post of the year; something to top off a year of shooting some great images with style!  I’m open for suggestions, but with the caveat that I do have to work the 31st.  So fire away!

I’m also looking for ideas of what you would like to see in the next year.  I will be posting my best images, at minimum.  But I could start creating some tutorials on my favorite styles/techniques (both to help y’all out, and to make me learn them better!), and maybe do some gear reviews, of the stuff I have used (which is limited).  I don’t see this as a profession, but maybe someday I can make some money to by new gear :D

Day 334 (29 Nov 2012) Kids, don’t try this at home. . .

“Now wait a minute,” you say, “that is just a tame photo of a city in the distance, and you forgot to follow the rule of third. Why are you implying danger in this shot?”  Well, I would have to say it’s because of where I was when I shot it.  I was on the side of a bridge on a local freeway (I-291) over the Connecticut river at rush hour.  There wasn’t much room to bet into/out of my car, so I had to time it just right.  But I was smart enough to place the car “up stream” of traffic while I set up my tripod. :)

I had thought of doing this shot several times before, but was always concerned a police officer would stop me, but I gave it a shot today and succeeded!  Not a great shot; bridge vibrations on 30 sec exposures caused it to be very unsharp on the details, and the composition wasn’t great, the city in the center and all.  Guess I was distracted?  Yeah, you could say that :)

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Day 332 (27 Nov 2012) A Snowy Road

Winter in New England means snow!  I love the snow; I love watching it fall, snow ball fights, hiking in it (gonna go for snow shoes this year, I think), driving in it, and LOVE snowboarding :)

I took my truck for a drive down an old farm road in the woods near where I live on my lunch break and took these shots.  It’s not a lot of snow, yet, but it’s still November :)

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Tomorrow I’m going to try for an early AM shot, so lets hope I can get up on time!!

Day 330 (25 Nov 2012) Cows At Rest

I pass this field several times a week, and can’t help but watch the cows as I drive by.  It seems at times that they live a life of ease, with nothing to do but relax and eat all day.  Then I go grab a burger and realize that maybe I don’t want that life!

Let me know what you think of the treatment I gave these images.  The foreground wasn’t very interesting, and the sky wasn’t that great, either, so I cropped them out.  The grass is a mix of dead and green, so it was hard to get the cattle to stand out a lot; that’s why I tried the B&W in the last one.  Critiques are welcome!

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Day 329 (24 Nov 2012) Blue Hour

Right after sunset is “blue hour’, in which the sky takes on a deepening and darkening blue as it transitions into the black of night.  I think that this time of day is the best time to shoot sky photos, especially since if the clouds are just right, the sun will shine a beautiful array of reds, oranges, and purples onto them as it sinks lower below the horizon.

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Day 325 (20 Nov 2012) Blasted Weather. . .

Well, It isn’t anyone’s fault but mine for thinking the sky would be clear tonight, and that I would be able to get the shot I had planned.  Better luck tomorrow :)  So, here is what I shot, not exactly the plan, but I did get to try out my new-to-me 75-300 zoom!

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Day 324 (19 Nov 2012) Meteor over Avery Point Lighthouse

A couple weekends ago I was talking with my friend Shannon from SeeingSpotsPhoto about her lighthouse project, and that inspired me to shoot the Avery Point Lighthouse in Groton, CT tonight.  The moon was just under 1/2 and I wanted to try my new-to-me 75-300 mm zoom to try and make the moon larger over the lighthouse.  However, the moon was not in the right place (I would have has to be swimming to get the angle I wanted, lol).  However, the constellation Orion was in the perfect location to shoot with the light house.  I tried several perspectives, trying to keep the shutter speed at 25 seconds or less to minimize star trails while having a sufficient exposure.  And during one exposure a meteor blazed almost directly over the top of the light house, and IN THE FRAME!!!  It’s intensity changed as it flared in and out before dying.  It was one of the most spectacular meteors I’ve seen, and I got it on the image!!!!  I was (still am) so excited I texted Shannon and some other photog friends right away (past 10pm, lol).  So, here it is for you to see, as well :)

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18 mm, 25 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100 (Avery Point Lighthouse Meteor)

This is one image, no layering, not combining, just some minor tweaks in Lightroom.  A bucket list shot, if I do say so myself :)

Day 317 (12 Nov 2012) Winter Tree

I was driving around Sunday afternoon and stumbled upon an open hilltop bordering a semi-industrial area and saw this tree.  Its one of the few I’ve seen that is in such an open area, near the top of a hill.  It makes this perfect to shoot against a cloudy sky.  There is too much light pollution to shoot with stars in the background unfortunately, but the way the light from the town plays on the clouds is worthy of spending time with my camera outside :)

The last image is pretty close to the natural color, but I started playing with the white balance and and tint in LR to get the colors in the first image, which I really like.  I also like the black and white treatment, esp. since there wasn’t much color to begin with.  When I saw the view of image 3, I saw that there seemed to be a sharp difference in light levels split by the trunk and tried to capture that.

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Day 309 (4 Nov 2012) A Night at the Tracks

Driving home this evening it was darker than I expected, probably because I’m not use to not having Day Light Savings (after all, its been less than a day!).  But I did notice a nice color on the horizon, so I pulled down to a boat launch near some rail road tracks I’ve shot at before and fired off a few ’rounds’. :)

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I just realized it’s been a while since I’ve broken out my macro lens; I miss shooting macro! Keep your eyes open for a macro shoot this week!

Day 307 (2 Nov 2012) Norwich Waterfront

About 10 or so miles up the Thames river from Long Island Sound is a town called Norwich.  It’s not anywhere near the shoreline, yet there is a marina there.  It’s a quite place after dark, but beautiful with the colors reflecting off the water’s surface.  The are is pretty well lit so one can walk around and enjoy the area even late at night.

Tonight was a little breezy, as you can tell by the second photo.  I tried to capture the movement of the trees in the wind.  Not sure how well it shows, but I did like the clouds.  I did leave the shutter open a tad too long, as the stars were starting to trail (a 30 second exposure when it should have been 20-25 seconds).

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I have a question for all y’all out there, is there a better WordPress theme than the twenty twelve for a photo blog?  I prefer to link my photos from Flickr vice hosting them here, if that makes a difference.  Thanks!

Day 303 (30 Oct 2012) Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy hit hard Monday.  Wind gusts over 80mph.  Power lost.

The first shot is shot through a rain-pelted window.  I intentionally focused between the window and the trees.  The second is the same trees, but showing blur from the drops on that same window.  the last one is a longer exposure shot after the moon peaked out of the clouds for a moment.  The wind was still blowing well over 35mph, so everything is blurred.

I came out of the storm in good shape.  I lost power for 48 hours, and had no damage.  Only thing that happened is the roof blew off of my shed, but since it’s a module plastic shed, I can simply put it back on and snap it in place :)

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Day 305 (31 Oct 2012) Flower After The Storm

On Wednesday my college had power, so I headed in for classes.  The clouds had thinned slightly and allowed some of the setting sun’s light to penetrate.  I saw this nursery and thought it made a good foreground for the sky, esp. since it shows the flowers knocked over by Hurricane Sandy (this is several miles inland, where the wind wasn’t as bad).

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Day 306 (1 Nov 2012) Sandy’s Clouds

Hey everyone!  I’ve got power back! It’s a great thing to have it, even after a short period (I got it back last night).  My part of CT had very minimal damage, unlike the shoreline and areas south, and for that I’m grateful.  I just lost power for about 48 hours, and the roof of my plastic shed blew off (I can just put it back, easy enough).  But my thoughts and prayers go out to those who are still suffering from Sandy’s wrath.  I hope none of you were in her path.

I shot tonight’s images from a small bridge on a dirt road just across the main road from my street.  I like how the moon glows behind the remnants of Sandy, and how some of the stars are starting to come out :)  Nothing too fancy, but I enjoy this kind of night/long exposure photography :)

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I did manage to shoot Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but I’m just now uploading the photos, so I’ll post those in a day or so.

Day 302 (28 Oct 2012) The Calm Before the Storm

Tomorrow the East Coast will begin to get pounded by Hurricane Sandy.  We up in southern New England will get the northern part of the storm.  The last time we got hit w/ a huge storm, power was out for over a week, so everyone has been preparing.  I myself am fully prepared and ready, “Sandy, Bring it!!!” lol

I took a trip to Ocean State Beach in New London, CT, to see what was preceding the storm.  The clouds added a bit of drama to the sky, and the wind was whipping up the surf.  We in CT don’t see real surf, protected as we are by Long Island.  I have to admit its very tempting to brave the storm to see the storm surge, but I think I’ll just stay in and play it safe :(

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Day 299 (25 Oct 2012) Night at the Boneyard

In my town, along a narrow, windy road that leads to the landfill, is a graveyard, a graveyard for the ones that are powered by engines.  To me it’s a sad place; there are many vehicles from the classic car era that are rusting, smashed, and have trees & plants growing out of them.  It’s almost enough to make me cry, almost.

I thought I would shoot there tonight, as the moon is near full, and the sky containing some light clouds.  I exposed for 5 min, ISO 100, f/11 and edited in Lightroom.  It’s been a while since I’ve shot long exposure shots like these, so I didn’t catch that the moon was in the wrong spot to get a good exposure on both the ground and allowing the sky to be shown.  But that’s ok.  I thought about going B&W on all of them, but like the subtle colors that are captured on a night like this.

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Day 262 (19 Sep 2012) Sculpture

I got to campus about 30 min before class started today because there is a huge red-painted sculpture on the campus I wanted to shoot.  I made several images from various angles, distances, etc.  It’s very interesting with the hard and soft edges, the arcs and angles.

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Day 259 (16 Sep 2012) Down by the Tracks

Today I took the scenic route home from church, which ironically is shorter distance-wise than the ‘normal’ route.  As I was driving and enjoying the fall sunshine and scattered clouds in the sky, I saw a sign for a boat ramp I had not explored yet.  So hit the brakes, hoping they guy behind me was paying attention and cranked the wheel to aim my car down the heavily potted road down to the river.  I parked, took a stroll to the tracks that parallel the river, and did a little shooting.  As you probably know, I have a thing for trains and rail road tracks (I have several posts that feature rail road tracks, such as this, this, and this.)

Enjoy!

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18 mm, 1/100 sec, f/11, ISO 100 (Into the Distance)

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18 mm, 1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 100 (River and Rails)

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18 mm, 1/40 sec, f/11, ISO 100 (Rail Road)

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18 mm, 1/40 sec, f/11, ISO 100 (Low Rider)