3.17.2015

Cannon Mountain: winter is still in full swing

While the melting has begun in southern New England, yesterday gave us winter ski conditions at Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire.  After a luscious 8" snowfall Sunday and Sunday night, with a colleague from work, we drove up for a fine day of skiing at Cannon, one of New England's oldest ski areas. These snapshots were taken with a little Panasonic point and shoot camera.

Depending on your screen size, larger versions of these images and a few more (20 total) can be seen on my Web site at http://www.peterfraileyphoto.com/p901834333

View of Mt. Lafayette from Cannon Mountain.









2.20.2015

Pattern(s)

"Pattern(s)" is the assigned category for next month's "salon" at my photo club. I really don't like that word "salon".  In my mind it's really a contest. Why don't we just call it that.

Anyway, I did enjoy going through my images two nights ago looking for recent mages showing a pattern.  Though the monthly categories are known a year in advance, I usually forget to have a list with me when out shooting.  Nevertheless, I did find some candidates in my library of images. None were taken with this category in mind, but they do fit the category. 

Last night I decided on the fifth (last) image below, and submitted it digitally to my club at the required slide show resolution of 1400 x 1050 pixels. 

Below are the five candidates I considered:

This is a closeup of a lawn owner's least favorite flower, the dandelion.  I could not submit this image because I had already submitted it a few months ago in another category, using the title Nature's Symmetry.


This scene taken at low tide shows a very nice pattern formed in the sand by little lapping waves as the tide receded.  I think it needs something more.  Perhaps a starfish sitting off to the side, or a little child sitting with a pail and shovel.


This scene is a mogel field at Mount Sunapee, NH.  It needs a skier or two skiing through the bumps.


I think this agricultural scene is a little flat.  It fits the category for sure, but I like the final image, below, better


Here the pattern is in the process of being completed.  There's more of a story to it because of the addition of the farmer and tractor, and the action of the grass being cut by the 13 foot New Holland model 1431 disc mower.

2.08.2015

Last June: lobstermen plying the water off Cape Breton Island

These images of the Jason and Jeffrey were taken at about 5:30 in the morning from a bluff in Ingonish, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Lobster boats in NS will typically have three men aboard. You can see that in these pictures. As I understand it, with unemployment running high in Nova Scotia, captains are required to hire two additional lobstermen.  (Along the coast of Maine you will usually see just two men per boat.)

I watched this boat for quite a while as it worked its traps.  I very much enjoyed seeing the traditional wooden traps being used. 

The the harvesting process was one of pulling up a trap and circling while one man (blue jacket) removed the lobsters and a second man (tan jacket) dumped a new pot, freshly baited, after the boat completed its circle, at nearly the exact spot where the first trap was hauled.  The hauled trap was then rebaited and staged to replace the next pot hauled, and so on and so on.  Unfortunately my angle did not allow me to photography the pot being dumped, as it was always on the far side of the boat. Image #3 is the closest I got.

The following pictures were taken during a one minute period.  Actually, the difference between the first and last image is 58 seconds.  They indeed worked fast!

If you look closely at the wake in the water, you can see that the captain circled nearly twice during this short sequence... rapidly moving along the shoreline like a corkscrew.











2.06.2015

Winter doldrums: Page 4: Way too much snow

In the last 11 days we've measured over 50" of new snow.  It all started on a Tuesday with 36".  My brother had actually flown into town from his home on the west coast for a little family reunion, and was planning to fly out on Tuesday afternoon.  That turned out to be an impossible task, as the airport began canceling flights on Monday evening in anticipation of the big storm, and a driving ban was imposed by the governor.  The bonus was that we had two more days together, plus we never lost electricity in spite of wind gusts near 50 miles per hour!

Now I hear that more snow is expected to begin tomorrow and to last four days.  It will be light, but total accumulation is likely to be 8"-16".

Below is a "portrait" of my brother's rental car during that first storm.  (The rental car company did provide him with a plastic window scraper, which made us laugh. Not only that, but it was in the trunk!)

Dark blue 2013 Nissan Maxima

2.02.2015

Winter Doldrums: Page 3: Another Saturday Inside

The middle Saturday in January is reserved on my calendar for the annual Fly Fishing Show.  It is a three day event and I enjoy meeting old friends there. January is a good time for it, when many fisherman (unless they like ice fishing) are suffering from cabin fever.

As a photographer I have a great deal of fun.  I am completely inept at "street photography".  Every attempt I have made to improve my skills at candid shots of people on the streets has been met with more anxiety than the effort is worth.  I am so fearful that someone will spot me aiming a camera at them and, even worse, take exception to that.

But at the Fly Fishing Show, this is not a problem.  It is so busy with people excited about talking and looking, that I am simply not noticed. Of course, I make things easier on myself by leaving my flash at home, even though I know many images would be made better with it (i.e. get rid of those raccoon eyes caused by terrible ceiling lighting).

Plus it's a relatively safe place to be, as we are all of the same mind.  A funny story: I did have one fly tying demonstrator see me, and he actually took off his reading glasses so I could capture (what to him would be) a better picture!

So, if you would like to experience the fun of candid people pictures, go to a show. I'm thinking a flower show or car show would be good places to "get away with" aiming a camera at people without much stress or notice.

One disadvantage of the Fly Fishing Show is that most of the demonstrators, vendors, and participants were middle-aged men. (Hey, I fit right in.) There were very few women, though as you will see below I tried.

I used an Olympus E-M1 with a 35-100mm Panasonic zoom (70-200mm-equiv), generally wide open at F2.8.


Below are reduced-resolution images:




























1.24.2015

Winter Doldrums: Page 2: A Saturday Inside

The winter is a good time for food photography I am learning.  It's cold outside and I just don't get out much with my camera.  Inside, lots of comfort food is blessing our dinner table thanks to Laurie's great cooking.  Recently I've been leaving a camera and a flash in the kitchen so I can take pictures of her evening masterpieces.  The results will be posted in future blog posts, I am sure.

It's snowing. Today is a day to stay inside... except for the 2 hours it took to clean snow off the cars and the driveway.  And actually, I hope to get a day of downhill or cross country skiing in tomorrow which will definitely get me out of the doldrums.

But back to today. See below. This is what it looks like outside, from our front door. It's really quite a beautiful scene. These two cedar trees and the one just to the right can make for a nicely composed winter nature scene, but for the fact that I needed a wider angle lens today.  I've taken this picture many times, but from an angle that eliminates the lamp post along our driveway and the two snow stakes barely visible in the foreground.



This morning, I thought I'd mess up the kitchen all by myself.  I wanted pancakes and found in the pantry an unopened container of gingerbread pancake mix from Stonewall Kitchen.  It had an expired date on it, so I thought I'd try a small batch and throw the remaining mix away if need be.  Well, I am not throwing it out!  I plan to make a batch every Saturday until it's used up.  Then I'll buy so more.  It is that good.

It also gave me a chance to play around with my camera and flash settings. I have pledged to myself that I will keep food photography fairly simple, using a combination of ambient light and a single flash attached to the hot shoe of either my Olympus EM-1 or Sony A6000. I am also using an old white 3-ring binder to bounce light.  Pictures of this set up can be found below.

I set up my camera and single flash to direct light toward the left and slightly behind the food, and to bounce this light back from the wall/ceiling. I "flagged" the flash with a piece of black plastic attached to the flash by two black hair bands.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's how my camera was set up.




The black flag causes all light reaching the food to be diffused by bouncing it off the wall/ceiling.  The light hitting the food will be coming from behind and to the left. The flag eliminates any light from the flash hitting the food directly. In my, albeit limited, experience this reduces any glare/shine/reflection off the food.

Here's what it looks like with the flash bouncing off the wall/ceiling behind and to the left of the food items.


After making the above image, I took my white bounce material (a white 3-ring binder that I found in the trash at my office) and placed it to the right.



Below is the result.  The shadows (example: between the egg and the measuring cup) are reduced. And you can see that the right side of the butter, the egg, and the measuring cup have more light on them.  Also, the label on the maple syrup is lighter.  The mixing bowl in the back remains the same.

To be honest, I am not sure which one I like better.


Crops: before and after using the white surface of the 3-ring binder.
The difference is subtle but noticeable.
The shadows have been reduced and the right side of the egg is brighter in the
"after" shot.