Spring

Here we are in spring again.  For many photographers, yours truly included, spring is a favorite time to shoot.  Everything is new and everywhere you look there are plenty of scenes to make images of.  This is a good time to get out of your usual work and try photographing new things you haven’t considered before.  Believe me it keeps the creative juices flowing.  I am going to show you four images all from different areas and two from different states.  The first image below is from Wolf Neck State Park in Delaware.  I was with my shooting buddy (and cousin) Bruce;  www.brucesteakley.com.  He makes some absolutely beautiful images which I urge you to see on his website above.  The shot below I like because it draws you into that open sky using both the trees on both sides and the stream moving from bottom right to left center.

Wolf Neck St. Park

The second image below is called “Serene Scene” and was made at the New Jersey Botanical Garden.  These gardens are a great place to shoot in spring as well as fall.

Serene Scene

The third image called “Six Boats” was shot in the Berkshires in the spring of 2016.  This early morning shot was so calm and quiet I just couldn’t resist making an image.

Six Boats

My last image called “Foliage Bridge” was made at the Leonard J. Buck Garden right here in New Jersey.  I love how the foliage overgrows the bridge.  I thought it was a lovely image.

Foliage Bridge

That’s it for this month and I hope these images make you want to get out with your camera gear (including your tripod!!).  Until next month remember “Keep Shooting.”

Tuscany Revisited

In my blog from August 2016 entitled “Tuscany, Italy”, I spoke about my family trip to that beautiful part of Italy.  In this month’s blog I would like to revisit Tuscany and show you some more images of that picturesque part of Europe.  The images I will show will not necessarily follow our itinerary on the trip.  Rather I have picked photographs that I hope will entice you to get your camera and tripod out and start shooting as we enter the spring season.

First let me say that there isn’t a bad place for photos anywhere I was in Tuscany.  The first image below is called “Dawn, Borgo San Felice.”  This image was literally made at dawn at this lovely hotel and vineyard.  It was a beautiful setting with special light.

Dawn-Borgo San Felice

By now most of you have seen the image below called “Tuscan Sunset After A Shower”, which was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.  Just a note, this woman is not a model and the shot was not posed.

Tuscan Sunset After A Shower

My third shot today is called “Tuscan Village” and when I made the image it screamed black and white.

Tuscan Village

While walking through one of the many towns we saw I came across my fourth image called “La Bottega.”  I thought it showed how quaint these towns can be.

La Bottega

Below is the fifth image which is called “Lacorte” and was made at Borgo San Felice.  I love the quiet setting and the muted colors.

Lacorte

My last image is one I just couldn’t resist.  Any of you who remember the old days of photography or like me are reaching ‘old geezerhood’ should get a kick out of this one called “A Blast From The Past.”

A Blast From The Past

I hope you enjoyed this month’s blog and I hope it inspires you to “Keep Shooting.”

Black And White – The Original Fine Art

Some people think that every photograph should be in color.  Why, you might ask, because the world is in color they say.  When I was competing in color slide competitions years ago I might have thought the same thing.  Then I built my darkroom and black and white became the thing for me.  Now, though, as I have matured I see that in fine art photography color and black and white dance to the same tune.  Having said that I think that black and white photography is the original fine art in this medium.  When I approach a scene the first thing that happens is ‘what’s the best angle’.  When that is achieved the next thing for me is, is this a color or black and white image.  An experienced photographer almost always knows how he/she wants to render the scene.  Let’s take a look at some examples of B&W work.  In the image below called “Princeton University Door”, I knew right away that this was going to be B&W, the color image just didn’t impress me.

princeton-door

In our next example below called “Bicycle Scene, Florence, It”,  I like this image in both color and B&W.  In fact you may see the color image in a future blog.

bicycle-scene-florence-it

Some images like the one below called “The Strand” just scream B&W.  The photograph evokes a time long ago.  It has a 1950’s or 1960’s look and it is nostalgic.  I love this image but the color version does nothing for the scene.

the-strand

For my last image I chose one that works equally well in color and in B&W.  It’s called “Bushkill Falls” and it is one of the color images that sold during my exhibition at Drip Coffee in Madison, NJ.

bushkill-falls

So when you go out with your camera (and tripod!!) just look for scenes that please you enough to want to make an image of it.  See if it whispers in your ear “I am a color scene” or “I am a black and white image.”  Until next month everyone try to enjoy this really early spring weather (in the east) and remember “Keep Shooting.”

A New Year – New Opportunities

Welcome to 2017!  I hope everyone’s holidays were fun and relaxing.  In photography a new year usually means some hard and introspective thinking.  As the new year begins I like to sit down with a pencil and pad (sorry techies!!) and write down my thoughts about the new photographic year.  What projects will I work on, will I try a new area and get outside my photographic box, and am I photographing to my personal potential.  Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise likes to quote his first officer Mr. Spock who said, “I like to think there are always possibilities.”  When it comes to photography I like to say “there are always photographic opportunities.”  A few years ago, after some critical input from my wife Karen, I decided to move into other areas of landscape photography including cityscapes and some architectural work.  The image below, which regular readers of my blog have seen, is called “Super moon, NYC.”

Supermoon NYC

This image has become one of my personal favorites in my color work.  Another favorite in the cityscape genre is the image below called “NYC Skyline”, which has become a very popular black and white image of mine.

NYC Skyline-5

This past year I tried to slowly move away from mountains, rivers, and trees to photographing old and sometimes abandoned structures that might make great black and white subjects.  The last image below is called “Water Tower, Great Barrington.”

water-tower-great-barrington

I like it for its simplicity, with the old building overgrown with foliage on the left and the dirt road leading the viewer into the image.  The main subject, of course, is the old water tower against a beautiful cloud streaked sky.  It was a wonderful find for me that morning.

So the next time you are sitting around on a rainy, cold weekend try to think about your photographic year ahead and move out of that comfort zone!!  Well that’s it for 2017’s first blog.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  So until next month KEEP SHOOTING.

Winter Photography

I held off on November’s Blog because I wanted to combine November and December this year.  As we slowly move into winter the first thing that comes to mind (if you are a photographer) is snow pictures!  Snow can be very difficult to shoot, especially when there are darker images in the scene.  I always find that snow can be beautiful unless it comes out gray in your photo.  There are a few things you can do to make sure your snow pictures really look like there is snow in them!  In the “old days” when everything was film, Ansel Adams said, “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.”  This quote was made to further explain the Zone System that Ansel and Fred Archer invented in 1930 for black and white photography.  Simply stated the zone system consists of values from zero to ten in the original form.  Zone 0 was complete black without any density and zone 10 being pure white with no detail.  Today with digital photography the zone system has evolved into what we call the histogram.

Image result for histogram photography

This is basically what you will see if you make an image and then dial your playback to the histogram.  As you can see from the image above the left side represents the shadows (darker areas) and the right represents to highlights (lighter areas).  This little graph can be extremely helpful especially in difficult lighting conditions, which snow scenes usually are.  If your image is too dark (underexposed) the graph will be moved over to the left, and if it is too light (overexposed) the graph will move to the far right.  So how can this help?  Once you know how your image is placed in the histogram you can make exposure adjustments that will move the graph towards the middle.  I usually use the [+/-] button on my Nikon but can find your camera’s button by looking at your owner’s manual.  So now that I have bored you with all this technical talk, let’s take a look at a couple of images with snow.  The first image below is called “View From Mt. Graylock.”

Winter Vista-the Birkshires

You will notice that this image was made in early morning with lots of shadow parts and some highlight areas.  Notice the different degrees of white in the snow in the distance and the snow in shadow closer in the foreground.  This was a beautiful morning, very crisp and crystal clear.  In the next image below called “Dusk, Winter, Central Park”, we have an entirely different set of circumstances.

duskwinter-central-park

The sun is rapidly fading behind the New York City skyline but is still able to light the snow and trees in the foreground.  Winter photography can be very rewarding but there are two things to remember, 1 – KEEP WARM and 2 – KEEP SHOOTING.  A very happy and joyous holiday season to all of you and thank you for reading my blog throughout 2016.  I will be back with my photo blog in 2017.

Dramatic Light

Some photographs are meant to be soft like wild flowers in a field.  Some photographs are meant to be straight journalism.  But the ones that catch your breath are the ones with ‘Dramatic Light’.  Those are usually captured very early in the morning or late in the day at sunset and even a little after.  I have always liked the dramatic light, I guess because I like the ones that catch your breath.  In the image below called “Desert View Sunset”, Grand Canyon Nat’l Park,

Desert View Sunset

the light is not only dramatic but creates a three dimensional feeling in the layered peaks.  Needless to say we were lucky that night.  In the next image called “Swamp Road Another View”,

swamp-road-another-viewthe-berkshires

the sunrise not only causes dramatic light but also those great reflections in the water.  As I have often said the life of a landscape photographer does not allow for a full night’s sleep.  In the third image called “ADP Lake – Last Light”

adp-lake-last-light-25

we get our drama after the sun has already gone down.  So all you photographers that pack up to go home when the sun sets might be packing up about 15 minutes early!!  Stay out there and watch the magic.  I hope you enjoyed this blog and remember “Keep Shooting”.

Fall Is Upon Us Again

Photography bloggers seem to write in the moment and I am no different.  Anyone who reads my blog each month knows that my favorite season of the year for photography is autumn.  As of this week we are officially into the fall season.  In this blog I have three pieces of advice for for landscape photographers, and most of these you have read about before but I think they are worth mentioning again.

1 – Clean your equipment.  Get your cameras cleaned by a professional like the good people at Unique Photo on Route 46 here in New Jersey.  I just had my camera done by them and they really do a terrific job for not a lot of money.  They will make sure that your sensor is clean which will keep you from having dust spots in your beautiful blue skies.  When you get those spots it means more time at the computer to remove them before you start your edit.  Clean your lenses and filters and check your tripod to make sure it is moving freely.

2 – Check online for the peak leave turning dates around your area.  Living in New Jersey I usually check as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as Virginia, not that I always get to all these areas but its nice to know just in case!

3 – Get out there and shoot.  Take advantage of the mild weather to get out to photograph that color.  Also you should remember that if you want that great fall light you have to set that alarm very early.  Ideally you should be out there just before first light which is usually about twenty minutes before sunrise.  You’d be surprised at the images you can get before the sun actually comes up.  Remember to take that polarizer for beautiful separation of clouds and sky and for increased saturation of those fall colors.  Below are two of my favorite fall images from Hacklebarney State Park in New Jersey.  The first image is called “Fall in Hacklebarney” and the second is called “Leaves, Rocks and Water.”  I hope you found this blog helpful and if you have any questions you can email me at srock33624@gmail.com.  Remember “Keep Shooting.”

fall-in-hacklebarney

leaves-rocks-and-water