A View from Above

By Mark

Last week my blog focused on the recovery process required to overcome the haze of summer.  In an ironic note of timing, today Adobe announced a new feature for an upcoming release of Lightroom- DeHaze.  Take a look at the link from Terry White here bit.ly/1KoKzXO 

But that is not what this blog is about.  This is a look at the destination and not the journey.   It boggles my mind that pilots are allowed to fly as we did around the city. Now, Jeff really knows what he is doing and we had to report our location almost continuously, but there we were flying below the tops of the skyscrapers at 1000 feet up and down the Hudson River.  

Here is a look at our flight path.

We made two trips up the West side and then crossed over and flew down the Harlem River and then down the East River. It’s pretty cool when you start out flying over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as you approach the city.  

Heading up town, seeing the newly opened Freedom Tower and the 9-11 memorial, reminds you how far we have come. 

Continuing up the river, we passed directly over the USS Intrepid museum.  Looking straight down on the aircraft on the flight deck was an interesting perspective.   

From the ground, it is difficult to appreciate, just how big Central Park really is. 

Unfortunately, at least for this Dodger’s fan, you can also get a good view of the home of the true Evil Empire—the new Yankees Stadium in the Bronx.

Further North there are some impressive cathedrals and this Tomb. 

Grant's Tomb

Grant's Tomb

If you’ve traveled through NYC, you probably have spent some time sitting on the GW Bridge.  It looks peaceful from this angle.

It’s no secret that my favorite building in the city is the Chrysler building. 

Usually I get shots of it from the top of the Empire State building, but I like this angle.  

As we left the city we had a much different view of Ellis Island and Lady Liberty than I got last summer. 

I am ready to go back again and next time we are going to try to go at night.   

Worldwide Photowalk 2014

By Roger (14 August 2014)

It's time again for the Worldwide Photowalk. On Monday, Scott Kelby announced this year's date will be Saturday, 11 October. You can see all the information on Scott's blog, here. Pay attention to the instructions, especially that you must use a new log-in name if you've participated in the past. It's free, and, if you decide to enter (and win) the photo contest, there are lots of prizes.

The group from one of our Colonial Williamsburg walks.

The group from one of our Colonial Williamsburg walks.

You've never heard of a photowalk? Where 'ya been? It's simply a walk with the purpose to make photographs, usually with more than one photographer. We have participated in many photowalks, and they are a great way to enjoy photography with fellow enthusiasts. Last year, there were more than 1,200 walks, around the world.

The whole point is to have fun and meet people who like photography as much as you.

Who knows what you will see?

Who knows what you will see?

You can bring any camera and gear you wish to carry, but we recommend you bring as little gear as possible to get through the couple of hours. Concentrate on the scenery, not the equipment.

One of our past photowalkers made a pinhole camera for the walk.

One of our past photowalkers made a pinhole camera for the walk.

Wear comfortable shoes and bring a snack. Take your time on the walk. This isn't any kind of race to the finish. The point is to amble along with your new friends. Talk about what you like to photograph; share contact information; help out the newbies with their gear or photo techniques.

One of my favorites from a past photowalk.

One of my favorites from a past photowalk.

For the last three years, we led the WPWW in Colonial Williamsburg. We are leading one of the walks, again, but this year we moved to a new location: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We've been here before on a beautiful autumn day. It is a pretty town, with lots of history, scenic locales, and street scenes for your photography games. The site is active now, and limited to 50 photowalkers. You can find all the details for our walk here.

We hope you'll join us for another great Worldwide Photowalk. It won't be any fun without you.

Church windows, in Harpers Ferry.

Church windows, in Harpers Ferry.

Along the route, in Harpers Ferry.

Along the route, in Harpers Ferry.

Join a Photo Club

By Roger (18 July 2014)

I've been absent for a couple of weeks, but I'm back. Maybe, I should try to write the blog prior to Thursday night, so I don't get behind. Naw, that would never work. ;-)

I've met several new photographers, this week, and most seem to be trying to figure out how this “photography thing” works by themselves. I believe photography is more enjoyable as a social activity. I have mentioned many times that it is much more fun to go out making photos when you have someone with you. One of the best ways to find a shooting partner is through a local photography club.

Photography clubs have been around since the camera was invented. Besides the social benefits, they are great places to share your work; learn faster; take field trips; and get advance opinions on gear before you spend your money. They can keep you motivated in your quest to improve your skills and vision.

Look for the club that best fits your personality. You should try them out for a few meetings to see if the group is right for you. I'm lucky because there are several clubs in my area for me to choose from. I travel 20 miles to get to our club, the Fauquier County Viewfinders, when there is another one only five miles from my house. Our club is more about fun and learning than competition, and that is my preference. The closer club is larger and more organized, full of great folks. They have monthly competitions, with expert judges they invite. It wasn't my cup of tea, but it might be what you want.

Big. rodeo smile on our flag girl

Big. rodeo smile on our flag girl

Here are some things to consider when you look for the right club for you:

Diversity. For me, I wanted to be around people with varied backgrounds. There are many clubs built around unifying themes – single photographers; landscape only; church groups; etc. – and I'm sure they're fine. But I like to be mixed in with people whose life experiences and interests are different than mine. Diversity includes skill level. Beginning photographers bring excitement, new visions, and challenges to a club.  I wouldn't choose to be in a club with only experienced photographers.

Longevity. There is nothing wrong with a new group, but, without knowing anything else about a club, you know there must be something that keeps a long-organized club going. If they've been going for years, I'm interested in finding out why. However, newer clubs may be more attractive to you if the older club has worked themselves into a routine that doesn't fit your needs.

A cowboy in northern Virginia?

A cowboy in northern Virginia?

Organization. I want just enough of this to beat back the chaos of too many creatives in one room, but not so much that I feel I'm part of some political party. Somebody has to run the meetings; organize the education topics; put out information emails; and collect the dues. I just don't want to deal with a 30-page rule book and a three-hour entrance exam, followed by a closed-room membership vote on whether I'm worthy enough. Pick which end of the spectrum makes you most comfortable. Every club suffers from those who don't participate enough and those who think the club is their personal property. Look for the club where this suffering is minimized.

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Bull riding in Fauquier County can be rough

Bull riding in Fauquier County can be rough

Cost. The membership dues for photography clubs vary widely. There are clubs that are really corporations, with their own studios and meeting rooms. That is great, but comes at a cost. Our club just raised membership dues, last year. We now cost $10 a year! We meet in a local hospital meeting room. You can find many choices between these two extremes, but you should expect to pay something. Dues help cover expenses like meeting rooms, websites, libraries, and many other legitimate costs to your club. They also help you keep track of active members and those who have left.

Activities. I saved my favorite for last. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog and countless other times, I like to get out and about to practice my photography. Active clubs make it a point to canvas their membership for photo excursion ideas. You can find “photo buddies” in every club. People who are making photos for just the fun of making photos. We invite each other to locations the other might never think of.

Those barrel racing riders are crazy fast.

Those barrel racing riders are crazy fast.

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All of the photographs in this blog are from our latest outing. Just this past Thursday, we met at the Fauquier County Fair, specifically the rodeo. (You know, when I was supposed to be blogging.) I had never been to a rodeo and, probably, wouldn't have gone by myself. It was an interesting photo challenge: fast-moving subjects as the sun was fading. The fair gave me lots of subjects for my people photography. Where else in northern Virginia can I get a shot of a prize-winning calf and its proud owner?

Very proud of her blue ribbon calf

Very proud of her blue ribbon calf

Look for a club in your area (a simple Google search will probably turn up many) or start your own. There are lots of benefits to being in a club, regardless of your skill level. You can share tips and find new subjects for your camera, with kindred souls who just want to enjoy photography with you.

Our new club website has a calendar we will use to post organized and ad hoc photo trips. (You can see our website here.) Feel free to stop in on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.

Don't Disregard the Familiar

By Roger (3 Oct 2013)

This weekend is the Worldwide Photowalk.  I hope you are participating in one of the over 1,200 photowalks in cities around the world.  For Mark and I, that means a third time leading the Colonial Williamsburg walk, with 24 of the almost 27,000 photographers participating.  Someone asked why we were going back to Williamsburg, instead of some place new.

That's a fair enough question and got me considering the attitude of many photographers.  We all love new photo locations and photographic opportunities, but, usually, don't want to go back for repeat visits.  Why is that?  Did you take the best photos ever taken of that location; photos that can't be done any better?  I doubt that.  Aren't new things happening, every day, at these locations? On your next visit, the weather will be different; arrive at an earlier or later time, and the lighting will be different.

The storekeeper takes a break in Colonial Williamsburg. 

The storekeeper takes a break in Colonial Williamsburg. 

The best landscape and nature photographers consistently revisit locations.  That is their “secret” for getting those dramatic photos – they know they have to be there when the conditions are just right.  Some visit a location so often they won't even pull out the camera if the scene isn't dramatic enough for them. You can't expect to go, just once, to Half Dome, in Yosemite and photograph it as well as Ansel Adams did. 

Your next visit to an old, familiar location may be your best ever.  As always, your decision on where to spend your photographic time doesn't have to be a binary, either/or decision. I've had a great year of new travel: Poland; Australia; and many of our States.  I also returned to some old favorites: Gettysburg (3 times); Boston (4 times); Annapolis (3 times); and, once again, Williamsburg.  Each time, I found plenty of opportunities for new photographs.

The same is true about revisiting and reprocessing old photographs.  Brooks Jensen, of Lenswork, just had an interesting editorial about this very topic.  He states that, although collectors value the early editions of collectable photographs more highly than later editions, they should do the exact opposite.  As a photographer matures and reworks an image, it becomes closer to his ideal (which should mean the reworked photograph is more valuable than his earlier work).  I agree and encourage you to spend some time on your older photographs. 

Besides your own growth as a photographer, the capabilities of your processing software has improved every year since you took it.  The capabilities to bring out detail in shadows and highlights; reduce noise; and correct perspective have been vastly improved.  It may be as simple as a minor cropping change that can change the viewers' perception of the photograph. 

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Look at the difference a simple re-cropping can make.  These are two different versions of the same photo in Arlington National Cemetery.  Look at your old images and rework them - you're a better photographer than you were in 2011. 

Look at the difference a simple re-cropping can make.  These are two different versions of the same photo in Arlington National Cemetery.  Look at your old images and rework them - you're a better photographer than you were in 2011. 

Nobody loves to travel to new places more than me, but don't miss the chance to revisit locations you've seen many times. How many times has the sports photographer returned to the same stadium?  Some days when you can't get out, go through some old photographs that could use another chance at better processing. Ansel Adams reworked his prints innumerable times, and his photography continues to be highly regarded. 

Have fun with it. 

The Virginia Safari Preserve - from my fourth visit with the grandkids. 

The Virginia Safari Preserve - from my fourth visit with the grandkids.