Monday, August 20, 2012

Snap Art 3 does Summer

Summer colors are so great! I love using Snap Art 3 from Alien Skin on summer beach shots abstracting the details into colors and shapes. The filter I used for all of the images here, was Pastel. Its been a fun couple days with my niece and grand niece visiting with me. We played Putt Putt Golf, walked on the boardwalk, swam in the ocean and had dinner with friends! That's summer by the sea!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer Colors ~ Sunrise

There is nothing like standing in front of the ocean waiting for the sun to rise over the sea, listening to the sound of the sea birds and the gentle waves breaking upon the shore. I do hate getting up that early but am always glad when I do! When there are no clouds in the sky except for a band on the distant horizon a long time exposure nets a pretty wash of pastel colors. I am on the beach early enough to see the stars...light changes quickly at that time in the morning. I can make a few really long exposures  any where from 7-5 minutes like the one above before the light brightens. As you can see here there were no clouds in the sky! :(
But there was some beautiful color and gentle waves to capture. I switched to using the 28-300mm this morning since discovering how badly the 70-200 2.8 VR1 vignettes on these type of shots. The 28-300mm also gave me an opportunity to zoom in and out for different comps. I don' like the 28-300mm as much as the 70-200mm VR1, as it seems not to be as sharp and it also has more chromatic aberrations, but in this situation it does fine. While it still vignettes, it seems that Adobe Camera Raw does a better job of correction than on the vignettes from the 70-200mm VR1.

I love when I can capture reflected sky light on the top of a breaking wave such as in the image above.
The haze or cloud bank on the horizon was so thick the sun was well above the horizon when it first became visible. Looks like it will be a great beach day, clear skies and warm temps are forecast.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Changes ~ Birthday Sunrise...

Before I get into the story....A note on the D4 and the 70-200mm VR1 lens ~ really, really bad vignetting occurs, so bad that is almost not worth shooting with, and the raw converter in Adobe Bridge does not correct for it satisfactorily. Sooo... unless you have the 70-200mm VR2 you will have to go shopping for a new 70-200mm lens.
I own the 70-200mm VR1 sooo I guess I shall need to upgrade that too. More $$$$.

OK now for the story..and more pics.

Well here it is another decade! Geez, where does it go....this one I was really hoping would be measurably better than the last two "Birthday" Decades. I tend to think of life in decades....So you are saying,  What was wrong with the last two?....OK here's a little insight into my life...10 years ago, my birthday was spent in the hospice room of my dad who I swear hung on to life until August 23 because he didn't want to pass on my birthday. He was always so thoughtful!! It was a very sad time for me as we were very close. The decade before, on my birthday, I got dumped from a relationship I thought was going somewhere.....that hurt! My Italian, CPA, Aquinas College Professor boyfriend was messin' around on the home front in Michigan...while doing the long distance romance with  me! I had gone to Michigan my birthday week with the idea that we were going to have a fabulous week boating on the waters of Lake Michigan and into the Canadian waterways, but a couple days into the week he received a call. He said he had to return to Grand Rapids to tend to some family business, but that I should stay on the boat and he would be back. I spent my birthday alone on a 36 foot SeaRay docked on Mackinaw Island....only to be told two days later he was going to marry the woman he was seeing in Michigan because she was pregnant! Well, I guess I should have known better! We did have some great fun in the seven months prior to that fateful moment! Skiing, boating, stuff!
I can remember one birthday when I was working in retail, traveling the markets in New York that I was so focused on work the entire day went by before I even realized it was my birthday...I really was never one to celebrate but that's just a little too crazy.

Soooooo.......this year I decided to place myself by the sea! Barring a hurricane, it felt pretty safe!
No men! ;-) Just the sea, a few little sandpipers, the sunrise and me!
When I checked the weather just before heading out, the humidity in the morning was 100 percent, a  little damp. The stars were out and a sliver of a moon was it didn't look promising for a stellar sunrise but that was OK. I put my 70-200mm on the D4 and headed to the shore line thinking it would just be about the 100 % humidity there was no way I was even going to think about changing my lens once I was on the beach. The light was soft due to all the humidity in the air, a thick cloud bank was on the horizon, the sky was clear over head and the waves were gentle....
As the light came on clouds started to make their way east and overhead, not over the sea, so I made a few shots straight up of the beautifully lit clouds.

The ocean was flat and there was no wind. As the dawn came on there was for a few moments beautiful color in the sky.

After the sun rose, I made this shot as the southern shore was bathed in a humid fog. Then I went to Jimmy's on Fenwick for a couple cups of coffee and breakfast... so far, so's to the rest of a good day. No decade!!! and if you read this far I hope your birthday decades are great as well!
Now I gotta go check on that Nikon 70-200 VR2!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reflections ~ Annapolis Harbor

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of working with a group of photographers from the NIH Camera Club in Annapolis. We made images of details on docked boats, people and reflections in the water.
I made a few grab shots in between answering questions and assisting with compositions and exposure choices.  I love, how on a calm morning, the gentle moving water in the harbor creates abstract reflections.  The flag in this image was waving slightly off the stern of a docked sailboat. With a little processing work I was able to amp up the colors. I also did a lot of spotting due to some surface debris floating on the water leaving in a few bubbles. Additionally I  made a selection of the blue water and applied a Gaussian Blur in Photoshop to soften the reflections of the sky, allowing the flag reflection to pop against the light blue.
I also love the way the hulls of boats in the harbor create reflections.
This reflection was created by the ticket booth for the harbor cruise reflecting in the water. Annapolis has lots to offer the photographer from harbor shots, street shots to the Naval Academy.
In my Kent Island Workboat Harbor Workshop sponsored by Capital Photography Center on October 6, we will have an opportunity to make images like these. Hope you can join me there!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 18 ~ Carrowkeel Ireland

Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery
After checking out of the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon, I made my way north again backtracking a bit to Carrowkeel a Megalithic Cemetery in the Bricklieve Mountains, before heading back to Shannon for my final night in Ireland. "Carbon 14 dating places the tombs at between 5400 and 5100 years old, so that they predate the Pyramids on Egypt's Giza plateau by 500-800 years. Carrowkeel is one of the big four passage tomb cemeteries in Ireland (the other three are Brú na Bóinne, Lough Crew, and Carrowmore)." This was on my do not miss list!
 It is well marked off the highway on a brown sign. The road winds its way up a steep hill and the small brown directional road signs become lost in the trees. I drove past one sign. After barely catching the sight of the sign as I passed it, I turned around and proceeded up a small two track farm- like road, until I came to a farmers gate. The sign on the gate said to please close it after passing through and so I did. Driving maybe a quarter mile further on the stone path, I came to a place marked with a sign that said no vehicles beyond this point. OK..I pulled off and shut it down. Now I was the only person there! No more signs so I followed the farm road down hill on the other side of the mountain hoping there would be some signs that indicated where I needed to make my climb up hill to the tombs.There is no touristy stuff here, its just the real deal!

When I arrived at a sign that indicated no more access, I made my way up the hill following what appeared to be a worn path through the hillside. After a steep ascent through boggy hills I saw the first tomb. Amazing! To think people over 5000 years ago buried their dead here, as close to the heavens as they could get them! Wow and then to think about the construction of these tombs and the labor, strength and tools that they needed to actually construct them...Amazing! I stood there for several minutes taking in the view. Then I walked on further to the second tomb scanning 360 all the time...trying to get a sense of how to capture the feeling of the place. The storm clouds were gathering but I didn't care I was not rushing off. After being up there for a half hour or so a few more people came along that had found their way up. One Irish couple saw me taking pictures with my tripod and began a conversation. He asked me if I was going in. To which I politely replied, I don't think so! He said, "Why not, tis what we came here for tisn't it?" Well I said yes I guess so, he said,
"Here, I'll go in first and help you." OK now that's interesting! Then he said his Border Collie wouldn't come in, but that she would go anywhere he would, just not here. He said it was because of the spirits! OK now that was even more interesting. So in he went after twisting a bit to get between the tomb stone and the entryway. So I said OK...leaving my camera outside, I twisted myself to get into the doorway and made it. Once inside the tomb ceiling is high enough to stand up in. Again I stood inside with amazement. He explained the three chambers and the construction a bit. Amazing!
Now getting out was a bit more challenging having to press my back against the front stone and push up backwards. I came out a bit dirty but enlightened!  I was grateful for his help and guidance.
Only a few of these tombs are still accessible as they have collapsed inside.  After making a few more shots I made my way back down hill. I could have spent all day exploring the hillsides there as there are many more tombs one can see in the distance, but I had to go.
SO back down the hill to the farm road and out. Well almost...there were some cute sheep that stopped me

Now I swear these guys are so cute and they never stop ba baing...its  make you want to just ba back.....and so I will Baaaa Back! Its confirmed!!! I will be leading a Photo Tour in partnership with Peter Cox in the south of Ireland next spring! Ireland captured me heart!

I hope you can join me then for a "Magical" Ireland Tour....June 2 - June 11, 2013.

After driving back down hill I stopped in a local pub for a  late lunch. I sat at the bar, next to a local. I chatted with him and he asked what I was doing there, so I said I visited the tombs, and I asked him if he had ever been there and he said no. I told him I crawled in one of the tombs to which he replied, "You didn't see any badger or fox in there did you, they would take a fine bite out of ya." OK now I know why the Border Collie would not enter the smelled the badger or the fox and had better sense than its owner and I! It was a great trip to a magical land.....and so ends the blogs of my "Ireland Adventure". For those who followed me along the way, thank you! I hope you can make it to Ireland one day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 17 ~ Sligo to Roscommon, Ireland

This was a transition day again, changing locations, checking out, and it was the beginning of the final leg of my adventure. I had hoped to get out and make a few shots of the castle but it was raining, so I walked around the grounds in my rain slicker and hike boots and made a few iPhone shots instead of getting all my big gear out.  My plans were rearranged for the sites I had wanted to see around Sligo, due to my trip north to the Dark Hedges.  I missed some of my objectives near Sligo, one of which was visiting a favorite poet of mine,  W. B. Yeats burial ground. He is buried in the graveyard of St. Columba's Church of Ireland church in Drumcliff . I wanted to at least get to this location so I headed north after checking out of the Markree Castle. 
When I arrived at W. B. Yeats final resting ground the rain had stopped. I walked past the church doors and into the cemetery where his grave lies simple among the others. His grave marker bears the last lines of one of the last poems he wrote. It was an interesting place and lo and behold there was a grave digger there with a spade in hand caring for an existing grave, by scraping off the heavy moss. It was as if he had stepped out of the poem that day. The poem follows here......

Swear by what the sages spoke
Round the Mareotic Lake
That the Witch of Atlas knew,
Spoke and set the cocks a-crow.

Swear by those horsemen, by those women
Complexion and form prove superhuman,
That pale, long-visaged company
That air in immortality
Completeness of their passions won;
Now they ride the wintry dawn
Where Ben Bulben sets the scene.

Here's the gist of what they mean.
Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knocks him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-digger's toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong,
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.

You that Mitchel's prayer have heard,
"Send war in our time, O Lord!"
Know that when all words are said
And a man is fighting mad,
Something drops from eyes long blind,
He completes his partial mind,
For an instant stands at ease,
Laughs aloud, his heart at peace.
Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence
Before he can accomplish fate,
Know his work or choose his mate.

Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did,
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.

Measurement began our might:
Forms a stark Egyptian thought,
Forms that gentler Phidias wrought,
Michael Angelo left a proof
On the Sistine Chapel roof,
Where but half-awakened Adam
Can disturb globe-trotting Madam
Till her bowels are in heat,
Proof that there's a purpose set
Before the secret working mind:
Profane perfection of mankind.

Quattrocento put in paint
On backgrounds for a God or Saint
Gardens where a soul's at ease;
Where everything that meets the eye,
Flowers and grass and cloudless sky,
Resemble forms that are or seem
When sleepers wake and yet still dream,
And when it's vanished still declare,
With only bed and bedstead there,
That heavens had opened.

Gyres run on;
When that greater dream had gone
Calvert and Wilson, Blake and Claude,
Prepared a rest for the people of God,
Palmer's phrase, but after that
Confusion fell upon our thought.

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

Under bare Ben Bulben's head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

After making this stop I turned south toward Roscommon and it began to rain like mad, so the rest of my outdoor adventures were cancelled, instead I rambled the countryside making the odd shot when I could. After driving around Ireland for almost ten days I became comfortable listening to the radio and driving too. I enjoyed some of the talk radio programs which detailed the sadness of the Irish farmers this spring due to all the unusually heavy rains which had spoiled many of their crops and cost them economically.
With that thought in mind I passed a farm with the equipment standing in a muddy field and made a quick shot.
And further down the road as the rain clouds hung low over the hillsides, I noted that lakes had begun to swallow up the small trees that normally would be dry on their banks but now had their trunks fully engulfed by the overflowing lakes.
Rambling on in the rain on the back roads, I had my very first real "road" scare. As I came around a blind curve (all back roads in Ireland seem to have blind curves) two cars were coming at me, at a fairly fast pace and  two feet over the center line. I had little time to think but moved right as much as I could, there are no shoulders on these roads either...just rock walls out the passenger side door. Since it had been raining so hard the side of the road was mud and when the soft ground met my tires it caused the car to fishtail a bit which I quickly corrected for and then the other cars were past. Whew!!! So I caught my breath, said to myself "OK, that's a sign, slow down and get to the hotel!"

After putting the address into the Garmin, I made my way to Roscommon and checked into the Abbey Hotel around dinner time.
Then I made some plans for my last day on the road and got a good nights rest. More tomorrow from my last day on the road  in Ireland!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 16 on the road Giants Causeway and back to Sligo, Ireland

View from the lower path at The Giants Causeway
Well if you have been following this adventure, I had a busy weekend and did not get to post, so I am picking up on Day 16 in Ireland, after shooting the Dark Hedges. It was about 5:30 in the afternoon and I decided to travel on north to the Giants Causeway, as I was so close and not knowing when I will be back again. I entered the destination into the Garmin and drove on. At this time of year the days are long and I was comfortable driving now so I was OK with extending my day. After parking in the lower lot and walking up hill to the entrance point I found my way down the lower path, as always the one closest to the sea. Due to the sea level location, the coastal path has a steep descent (100m) as you leave the visitor center, I was keeping this in mind as I had to return uphill on the same path! The path was asphalt paved so the walk was easy.
There were lots of tourists visiting this site today and the hexagonal rock formation was crawling with people. I was not going to crawl the rocks but enjoyed the view of those that did.
I made a few more grab shots and headed back up the hill, making a few stops along the way where,  I enjoyed the site of this sign! Around 6:00 pm I decided to head back toward Sligo, knowing that I was going to make some random stops along the way.

The shot was made right off the parking lot of a pull off along the coast. What I was going for here was of all these birds SITTING on the fence. I approaced the scene carefully, set my gear up, made my exposure and composition adjustment and as soon as I was ready to hit the trigger for a shot, a dog started barking and the birds took I hit the shutter fast! I laughed...but maybe its a better shot any how! I made a few more stops before hitting the pedal and heading down the highway toward great light just some tourist shots on the road.

It had been a pretty afternoon with high clouds and as I was heading south with the light fading I thought the sky was going to be awesome for sunset. Not in the plan but as I was driving indeed it started to get some beautiful color. At that time I wished I was near the spot I was in the morning, on the cliffs in Mullaghmore.....and so I was, I recognized the road I turned on I made a quick turn and a low pond appeared with reeds and swans...with beautiful reflected sky light...I had to stop!

From the pond I could see the silhouette of the Cassiebawn Castle against the colorful sky and knew I was missing the show on the cliffs so I packed up and made a dash for the cliff chasing the light. (well as fast as I could go  on the left hand side of the single lane road) and so I missed the really beautiful light, but enjoyed the scene when I arrived and made a few shots! Feeling lucky and grateful for a good day on the road, it was now 10:00pm and it really was time to just get back to the Markree Castle. I never stopped any where for dinner and I was a bit exhausted, so I dragged my self up the steps and picked up my room key from the desk. The young lady asked me how I was and I honestly said tired and hungry, knowing I was not getting anything to eat, she politely and graciously offered me a pot of hot tea. Wonderful, so I enjoyed a pot of hot tea sitting by the large peat burning castle fireplace, checking my e-mails before I went up to my room to download my files and get ready for check out in the morning. It was a great day!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 16 "The Dark Hedges" Bregagh Road, Armoy

The Dark Hedges along Bregagh Road
After making a stop in  Mullaghmore in the morning, I headed directly for the Dark Hedges in Armoy, County Atrim. I kept the pedal down but at the marked limits navigating more round-a-bouts than I desired and arrived in Armoy around 3:30. It was a little longer drive time wise than anticipated and by the time I arrived the weather had changed, it was a sunny afternoon. Upon arriving in Armoy, I looked for a spot to eat. Well I first sighted a pub and thought OK pub and food great unwind from a long drive and refresh. But noooo, this pub had no food. When I approached the door three men were kind of hanging in the doorway, and I asked about food. They said no food here, so I asked where I might find a place to grab a bite nearby and they said just up the hill...I asked a little more specifically letting them know I just motored from Sligo, was pretty hungry and needed a break from driving. Then they became curious of my mission, I said I was there to photograph the trees. "Ahh the trees." they said. I said, "Yes, you know of the trees?" and they responded, "Yes." So I asked them exactly how to get to Bregagh Road from there, if I wasn't going to get food at least I could get directions! Then the funniest thing happened, now all of them outside the bar standing on the sidewalk talking to me, they began to disagree with each other on the best way to get to the trees. It was hilarious! Well maybe you had to be there. I just watched them and smiled. Then one of them said, "Hey, just follow me I'll take you there." Now that was interesting, quickly through my mind went...what who knows...but as he walked across the street to get into his black 2003 VW Passat V6 all motion, car, which is exactly the car I have at home, I decided that was a sign that it was OK to follow him. So he quickly navigated through the town and within 5 minutes we were on the road with the trees. I thanked him tremendously and he said, "Ahh tis nothing."
Now I still needed to get some food and refresh a bit before doing some work. So I drove to the end of Bregagh road made a right turn and then turned down the Grace Hill golf course road. Golf courses always have club houses, restaurants and food, right? Jackpot! It was a super golf course and yes they had a restaurant. So I went in and ordered lunch, even though it was getting late, now about 4:00pm they were happy to serve me. I went to pay for my tab using my Euro's and they politely told me they did not accept them....well of course not this was the UK, should have known that by all the Brit flags flying, so I charged my lunch instead, no problem. It was just the break I needed. I was ready to do my best thinking and get out there and make photographs. The walls in the restaurant had many artists renderings of the Hedges and I made the observation that the best were made looking north up the lane, so that is how I decided to position myself when I got out there. I made exactly 37 shots in between jumping in and out of the road to let cars pass. I wanted the center of the road as my point of composition. I walked up and down the road making small tweaks in how I composed each shot, looking for how the trees balanced and how the light was woven through them. These four shots I processed in Photoshop using filters from Nik Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro. More from the road in Ireland tomorrow.....