The Bridges of New London County

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I don’t shoot (or process) near as often as I would like.  I guess that’s just letting life get in the way of stuff I love.  Life being school, wedding planning, and just not taking the time to do anything with my camera.  The 365 project was really good at keeping me in the photo mode.

But anyway, here are some photos I’ve taken in the past few weeks.  Enjoy!

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Tilt Shift – Bridge

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Snowing

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Salmon River

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Comstock Bridge

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8 Feb 2013 – Baby it’s cold outside!

Here are some of my images from the past week or so, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

There is an irrigation pond not far from my home where the ‘old timers’ like to gather and fish.  Not having good ice traction, I wasn’t able to talk to this gentleman, other than to ask if I could take his photo.

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I was able to borrow my friends’s wide angle lens (Tokina 11-16mm), so I brought it to Avery Point in Groton, CT to try it out a little bit. As it was my first time with the lens, I wasn’t too impressed in general w/ my images, the lens is fun, though it feels almost like a prime. I think I’ll try the Canon 10-20 next 🙂

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Wednesday night, after teaching a class to kids on photography, I felt inspired to shoot some night photography. I shot these from a pedestrian bridge over Rt 32 in Waterford, CT. In the first image you can see the athletic complex for ConCollege in the foreground and the town of Groton across the river. The brightest lights lights across the river, on the left side, are SubBase New London (yes, it’s in Groton) where I was stationed before I got out.

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These last two I took today. I had a green glass bowl that I had used to make banana bread that was in the drying rack over the portion cups I used to pre-measure my ingredients. It looked pretty cool as the muted sun glinted off the now-green cups.

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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 349 (14 Dec 2012) Playing around

I thought it would be fun to try and play around with some lights, crinkled aluminum foil and tinsel.  I used my 50/1.8 and just messed around.  I think some of these would make good powerpoint or card backgrounds.  It was fun just to mess around for a bit!  I posted a lot more photos than usual; they were all so different I couldn’t just pick one or two.

Can you guess how I did the last one?

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Day 347 (12-12-12) Light Bulb!

You have to read the title in the accent of Gru from Despicable Me; If you’ve seen this movie, you know what I mean.  If not, rent it today!

Anyway, I was inspired to shoot this after stumbling across a photographers website who had a few series of light bulbs, and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed with them.  So I figured I would try it myself.  So on my way home from class I stopped by Walmart and picked up a couple clear 40 Watt bulbs.  The first one blew the moment I turned the lamp on, so I was glad that I had two.  I am disappointed that the class has scuffs and other marks that I could not wipe off.  When I take the bulb back to exchange it, I’ll have to actually look for one w/ good glass.

I took a lot of liberty with these images, even playing with Split Toning on a couple of them. I think it adds some interest and a unique look to a common object.  What do you think?  Which is your favorite?  What other angles should have shot this at?

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And on other news, a couple of photos I shot for a street photography collaboration have been posted to a gallery here.  Check them out and let me know what you think!  Also, let me know if you would be interested in contributing to another one and I’ll make sure you get the invite 🙂

Day 346 (11 Dec 2012) Glass of Water

How boring is a glass of water?  Or how ordinary?  Have you ever noticed the little bubbles of air that come out of solution as the glass sits?  I noticed the way the glass and bubbles glowed when was carrying up my glass w/ my phone underneath with the screen on.  It was kind of neat, neat enough to take a break from my cramming, er, I mean studying, for my finals this week to snap a few images.  Nothing spectacular or exciting, unfortunately, just happy to tick off one more day closer to 366 🙂

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Day 245 (10 Dec 2012) Parking Trees

Tonight as I was pulling into my church’s parking lot to lead the final Financial Peace University class of this series, I noticed that many of the trees in the parking lot islands had lights very close to them.  From the right perspective it looked like there was a light shining from the top of the tree itself, illuminating it’s branches from the top.  The rain had broken by the time class was over and left a light haze which was illuminated by the lights and gave the area around it a nice glow.  So what did I do?  Bust out my tripod and camera, of course!  I know you are not surprised 🙂

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Day 343 (8 Dec 2012) Foggy Lake

I love fog! I was on my way into town to study at a coffee shop (I get too distracted at home sometimes) and it was one of those days where it’s just a light drizzle with fog and clouds and just a chill the permeates everything. I took the short way into town, which I’ve taken many times, and I noticed just enough fog on the lake to slightly obscure the trees. It was perfect to shoot! I set up the tripod, took some exposures, then it dawned on me that the gate was open, so hopped in the car and drove down the road a bit to get another angle on the lake. That’s when I saw this swimming dock just floating out in the lake. That was the shot I was looking for, the shot I’ve wanted to take for a long time!

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Day 342 (7 Dec 2012) Christmas

Yesterday I had an idea for a shoot, and I had about an hour to set it up and execute before I had to leave for my evening plans.  Not realizing how late I would be out (hence why this post is coming out today, lol), I did some ‘test’ shots and would finish up after returning home.  Overall I’m happy with the concept and composition, but they are not quite right.  I had to so some selective editing in LR to get the lighting (close to) right.  I thinkI know how I need to modify the set up, so I’ll try again to get it right!

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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 339 (4 Dec 2012) Pepsi Bottle, or More Creative Shots of Trash

Tonight while finishing up my studies I started to wonder what I would shoot.  I looked over at the empty Pepsi bottle sitting on my desk next to my binder and the shape of the threads on the top caught my eye.  I thought, “I bet that might make an interesting black and white photo.”  What do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  I’m curious to see why. 🙂

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P.S. This bottle will be recycled, if you were worried 😉

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 😀

Day 337 (2 Dec 2012) Christmas in Colchester

Tonight I wandered over to the Colchester Town Green to see our tree.  The tree that was decorated in the past was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and was removed after Thanksgiving and replaced with this one from the edge of the Green.  It’s a bit smaller, but still a beautiful tree!

I set up my camera with my 50mm f/1.8, radio trigger and tripod and just had fun!  It was a warm 50 F with minimal breeze, so I wasn’t in a hurry to be done and was able to enjoy myself out there!  There weren’t very many people out for me to get in the way of (or vice versa, lol), either. 🙂

I’m curious as to your thoughts on my interpretation of the scene.

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Self Portrait 
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Christmas Light

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Christmas Lights and Tree

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Christmas Tree

Day 336 (1 December 2012) Christmas Parade

Today makes 336 consecutive days of taking photos!  Only 30 more till I hit 366!  This dude isn’t stoping at a mere 365, I’m going all the way to 366!! Oh Yeah! LOL

Tonight I hung out with some friends (and their kids, lol) at the Groton Holiday parade.  It wasn’t the the greatest parade ever, but how often do you get a chance to see several floats all lit up at night just drive past you?  It was a good time to light paint many times with minimal effort, lol.  All I had to do was stay warm 🙂

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Day 335 (30 Nov 2012) Bokah

Nothing spectacular tonight; just trying to get some bokah practice in for when I can find a great outdoor Christmas tree 🙂  These were trees in a shopping center parking lot, strung with some white lights.

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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 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 🙂