WELCOME TO BergiesPlace, MY PHOTO JOURNAL….

…of commentary and images of places, things, or events that I’ve photographed or remembered. On the right are posts from the past few months; click on one and you’ll be taken to it.  ALL earlier posts can be found by clicking here for an alphabetical index..  if If you’d like to get an automatic email whenever I add a post, simply click under Email Subscription at the lower left. You can always unsubscribe. 
 

CLOUDY DAY COMPOSITIONS

I slept in until 7 (?).  I wondered why and discovered that cloud cover had kept the light level low.  While waiting for the caffeine to boot my head’s RAM I enjoyed the swirling cloud clumps.  Yep, picture time.

Here’s Liberty Thorofare and Mordecai Island, looking north to the center of  Beach Haven.

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At the foot of my street is Cotov’s boat landing, family owned and maintained for over seventy years, a unique reminder of Beach Haven’s past as a fishing community,.

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There have been two generations of Cotovs know as Captain Bly.  The third generation, young Nick Cotov, continues to maintain the property, rent boat slips, care for the martin houses, and harvest bait for sale to the island day-boat rental places.

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The original fishing boat, the Sultan, has been on blocks since I moved here in 2001.  She suffers a little more each year.  At one time, the late Nick,Sr. had offered it to the Tuckerton Seaport.  Not everything gets done.  Hemmed in by Sandy debris, the vegetation moves to enfold her.  Sic transit gloria.  No matter; if my RAM continues to work, I’ll know where she is.

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It’s hard for me to think about lobsters off-shore of central Jersey.  Everybody knows they come only from Maine.  But that wasn’t always so.  The family worked lobster traps off-shore here for many years.  Now, the traps age along with Sultan.

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In the brush and vegetation that is engulfing Sultan and the lobster traps there is still the here-and-there flash of color, seeking to reproduce itself.  As a centerpiece the wild aster says, even with a dark cloud cover, still, “It’s a beautiful day in Beach Haven.”  Thank you, Walter Smedley (R.I.P.) for this wonderful statement.

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THE TORRENTS OF MAY

No, this isn’t a romance novel.  It’s just spring in Greene County, New York.  That’s the Catskills but after several posts about the area over the years I felt the need for a new kind of title.

I recently revisited the area along with several photographers from the South Jersey Camera Club and the Cranbury Digital Camera Club.  We enjoyed plenty of violently rushing water and falls; hence the title but we also enjoyed lots of fresh spring greenery.

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The streams were running heavy, producing foamy cascades on their way to the Hudson River Valley, overwhelming former mountain trolls such as this one.

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A special target for us on every trip is Kaaterskill Falls which drops 260′ in two sections making it one of the largest falls in New York State.  The first drop of 167′ leads to a swimmable pool  in a large rock amphitheater which I’ve not yet visited as it’s tough to get there.  This spring, however, saw me finally at the top of the falls, accessible after a short hike to the trail head down Laurel Creek Road off of Lake Road above Tannersville.  I walked down there a few years ago but there was no trail head then.

We arrived at Spruce Creek, the top image below, which drains the eastern escarpment and feeds the falls.  A pivot to the right reveals the lip of the first fall (167′) in the image on the left.  This has been a spot for injuries and deaths of people slipping and going over.  It was scary to one whose knees quickly become jelly in such situations.  On the right below is 71′ high Bastion Falls just below Kaaterskill, and another step-down of Spruce Creek.  Spruce Creek continues on a wild ride along Route 23A and joins another creek to become Kaaterskill Creek.  We see it at bottom,  photographed in the rain as it heads for a bridge crossing on Route 32 south of Palenville, almost 4 miles from Bastion Falls.

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There had been so much rain added to the normal runoff of spring that small falls … mini-falls … burst from the rock faces along the roads.  Here was such a scene just up the road from Bastion Falls.  The scene was about 5′ in height.

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We also usually visit an old, deteriorating inn, the Cold Spring Resort, located on Spruce Street south of Tannersville.  Members of our group have researched its history and turned up an ad for the property for 1902.  It is said that it has been closed for about fifty years.  Brave colleagues entered a ground floor pantry and found dishes piled up, ready for service, and a couple jugs of muscatel.  Laundry machines had been sitting on the front porch for a couple of years but they disappeared during the weekend.  The end is in sight.  Each year we find some other part of it that has collapsed and we wonder when it will totally disappear.  This inside corner has given up since my last visit here a couple of years ago.

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Amongst and between all of the falls and old inns there is the dramatic vista here and there, the kind of thing that drew artists and vacationers to the Catskills Resorts in their heyday.

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We were a little early for spring flowers but the lilacs bloomed in profusion and filled the air with their fragrance.

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There is a gallery of these and more related images.  Click here.

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FALLS AND FALLEN FARMS

Our South Jersey Camera Club recently organized a weekend field trip to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  Aside from the great camaraderie we also enjoyed working several scenic locations.

We began with Dingman’s Falls which is up a road west of Dingman’s Ferry on U.S. 209. The road leads to a visitors’ center where the trail to the falls begins.  One curmudgeonly observation: Why can’t the destinations be closer to the parking areas? It’s always, “Oh, we’ll park here and then it’s only a mile in.”  I pack at least fifteen pounds of camera, lenses, tripod, filters, spare battery, water, and etc. and those one mile hikes seem much longer.  On several of the field trips I’ve taken with pros I’ve always suggested caddys.

But, I get there eventually. Our first stop, Dingman’s Falls, seen here, wasn’t showing in its best light. There was too much sun and too bright a sun, causing too much contrast between lighted and shadow area. It then becomes a post-processing challenge which requires software either to resolve multiple images with different exposures, or for judicious post-processing of single images.* Never mind all that, it’s still a dramatic scene.

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I first photographed Dingman’s in the summer of 2008.  Maybe the lower left was dark then, too, because I focused just on the upper third as shown here.  I also chose a 1/4” exposure then, providing the creamy look in contrast to last month’s exposure of 1/64″.

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There is something to be said for both of the above images but I seem to gravitate towards the scene-filling milky water.

From Dingman’s we headed up 209 to the Raymondskill Falls area.  Without my caddy I didn’t go all the way down to photograph the main falls.  There was, however, running water and cascades along the way.  I enjoyed sitting on the edge of the embankment and shooting into the water on its way down.

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We finished up the late afternoon in the Childs Recreation site which features … guess what … more falls.  By now I was somewhat desperate for an interesting falls scene; I spotted this and brought it home.

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A late, great dinner at the Apple Valley Family Restaurant in charming Milford  finished the day.

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The next morning we were out early in search of fallen farms.  In the late 50’s Congress initiated a project to dam the Delaware near Tocks Island, north of the Delaware Water Gap.  The primary purpose was for flood control but also for power generation and water supply.  Over the ensuing years the government acquired a great deal of land on both shores of the Delaware, in part land that would be flooded by backing up the river, and in part for recreational area.  The projected 37 mile-long lake project was vigorously opposed by residents and environmental activists and, as a result, by the states’ governors, and it was disapproved in the 70’s and reviewed and rejected again in ’97.  In 2002 it was officially de-authorized.

Our day would take us to three of the old farms, alive and productive before Tocks Island but now fading and deteriorating.  Here was the first … foreboding and squishy from the previous night’s rain and morning mists.  I was drawn first to the remaining wall of the old barn.

The barn that was.

The barn that was.

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The night’s rain and the morning mist gathered as droplets on the rambler rose branches which were just beginning to sprout leaves, the drops capturing the trees beyond them.

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The early morning light on this deserted place of former life led me to see these trunks in a dark way.

The hanging tree.

The hanging tree.

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At this point I felt a compelling need to think about and plan the rest of my shots here.  A colleague captured my meditation.  (After all, we had started at 6:00.)

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Moving on, another forgotten farm included this left-behind, peeling canoe.  How many happy times was this enjoyed on the Delaware?

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Our final farm visit was to the Zimmerman Farm, the summer home from 1944 of the New York City artist, Marie Zimmerman.  The farmland was originally acquired by her father in 1882 and she grew up there, frequently camping and fishing alone.  The family home on the property is being maintained and some of the farm buildings remain although they are under siege.  (This was another of those spots where we parked and walked “Only about a mile in.”)

The invasion of the vines.

The invasion of the vines.

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The pig barn stands although the doors and windows are memories as are the pigs.

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There is a gallery of these and other images from the trip.  Click here.

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*[A tech note on image processing. Cameras don't produce good (for viewing) images right out of the sensor. Although there are several million pixels worth of detail the camera still has to integrate all their outputs to make some sense of the scene. Most cameras will produce a so-called jpeg image which is the result of applying internal software to the colors and to the brightness and sharpness of the pixels. For point-and-shoots the results are enjoyable and that's good because there isn't any alternative. For Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras, however, one may choose to shoot in the so-called raw mode, or raw plus jpeg. The raw mode captures all the signal from each pixel such that the original image data can be processed by a raw editor in one's PC. The raw file is unchanged by this processing and is always available for re-editing later if desired.]

FOCUS STACKING FUN

SPOILER ALERT:  This is a techy post aimed at my fellow gear-head photographers.  No landscapes but, hey, there’s a couple of flower pictures.

I experimented with focus stacking this past weekend and I’m psyched about the results.  A colleague, Mike Riddle, gave a presentation on this a few years ago at a camera club meeting.  It was impressive but not enough to become a part of my life.  Now, that’s changed.  Too bad I can’t remember what he said.

Focus stacking is a procedure in which one takes several shots of a scene, each focused on a farther part of the scene.  Software is then used to blend the several images into one in which the entire scene from front to back is in sharp focus.  The technique is applicable to closeups as below, or meadow-to-mountain landscapes.

Camera lenses are able to render some or all of a scene in fine focus depending on the scene, the aperture, the distance to the elements in the scene, and the lens and its quality.  (The aperture is the opening  through which the light from the scene enters the camera.)  Depending on all of these factors there will be a range that will be well-to-perfectly focused but beyond which the image will be soft to fuzzy.  The in-focus range is called the depth-of-field, abbreviated as DOF.  In general the smaller the aperture (i.e. the higher the f/ stop number) the greater the DOF.  The DOF is also shortened as the focal length of the lens is increased as with telephoto lenses, and as the magnification is increased as with macro lenses.

A long DOF is usually desirable with scenic landscapes; a shorter DOF can provide a pleasantly fuzzy background in certain shots which are emphasizing something in the foreground.  That fuzzy or blurry background is referred to as bokeh (bo’-kah where the second syllable rhymes with hah!)

The first image below was not focused-stacked.  It is a single exposure made at f/16 through a 100 mm macro lens.  It’s not bad as far as sharpness but you should be able to sense some softness on both the closest and farthest petals.

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Next below is the result of stacking six shots of the scene at f/8.  In each shot I focused on a “plane” farther into the scene.  When the rear petals were in focus I stopped shooting.  I then loaded the images into Photoshop (CS5) and used Edit/Auto Align Layers and Edit/Auto Blend layers.  The result surprised me with its punch and clarity from front to back.  The white edges on the petals suggest some sharpening.  Not so.  They are naturally slightly white at the edges as revealed by the sharp focusing.  As witness a couple of insect holes here and there, there was no post-processing of the blended image.

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I used my CamRanger to help me determine the starting plane and the end plane.  CamRanger is plugged in to my camera and connects to my tablet thru a wi-fi connection.  An app on the tablet enables me to see the live view from the camera.  Focusing controls in the app enable me to determine the starting and ending planes.  Within the app I then select the number of shots I need for the focus increments I decide on, and I then initiate the sequence.

Now, do you need a CamRanger and a tablet with a control app?  Absolutely not.  If you have a good eye you can selectively focus within the scene.  If you have live view on your camera it makes it much easier and provides better control.  Set the focus to sharpen the nearest elements and fire the shutter;  then focus on the next farther plane and shoot and continue as many times as needed to get the farthest elements in focus.  How many planes?  As many as you find you need in order to get everything sharp in the scene.

Do you need Photoshop?  No, but it helps.  You’d need at least editing software that supports layers, one for each image plane.  Without Auto Align and Auto Blend tools you’d have to figure out how to do these manually with masks and brushes.  There are several programs dedicated to blending stacked images, including a couple of freeware packages.

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Here’s another pair for a closeup of a single flower.  Both images were shot at f/8 with the 100mm macro lens.  The second, however, is the product of four stacked focus images.  The resolution is compromised for web display.  On my monitor and on a print one can see the hairs around the style (i.e. the tube from the pistil) at the flower’s throat.

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I’m looking forward to trying focus stacking on landscapes.

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FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING


I recently passed a nice anniversary.  My first blog post was on February 10, 2009 so this past February marked five years of blogging.  Encouraged by colleagues Denise Bush and Terry Wilson I jumped into the WordPress world and, suddenly, it’s five years later.  I’ve enjoyed it very much.  I’d always wanted to write and the blog gave me an opportunity less intimidating than a book or even an essay although there has been at least one of those*.  Serendipitously, the blog has been a place to display some of my photography which, in turn, has provided a raison d’etre for the writing.  What a happy fit.

On the photography face of the coin here’s a recent image.  These are about 8″ tall and I used to have to lie down to shoot them horizontally.  That’s become too demanding so I have a new toy called the CamRanger.  It plugs into the camera and transmits the camera’s view and settings to my Samsung tablet so I can focus, adjust the other settings and take the shot while standing or sitting comfortably nearby.  Ahhh, technology.

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Writing has been a demanding Muse.  First comes the anxiety of not having posted for a while; then there’s the anxiety of what to write about; finally there’s the anxiety of whether what I’ve written is worthwhile.  I may start out holding on to a steeeep slope but as I get going it always seems to evolve such that I feel good about it.  My recent Hawaii travelogue was one such post … today we went here and then we went there etc.  But, it evolved comfortably for me.  I’m reminded of bird carvers who say, “The bird was inside the block; I just had to cut away the rest of the wood.”    This post on the other hand has been fermenting and has rolled out easily.  For any post a first draft eventually appears but then it is a process of review-correct-add-change, and then do it again.  Each post gets reviewed and tweaked several times and yet, amazingly, I’ll reread an old post and find a typo or grammatical error.

The stats?  166 posts by the anniversary date (four more since then), over 900 images along with five audio clips, a short poem (The First Beach Nap of Summer),  a handful of videos, and over 32,000 views.  About 5% of those have come from seventeen foreign countries across all continents except Antarctica. My colleagues have had more views but my count is probably because the blog is more of a journal than a pure photography blog.

My all-time most popular post is Selected Beach and Sea Images With Sound Accompaniment   That surprised me but also pleased me since I have such a bond with the sea.  Two others that continue to draw readers are Charleston and the Low Country, and The 18th and 19th Century Fairmont Park Houses.   Both of those lost out, however, to my three-post series on Hurricane Sandy, which drew a broad audience because of its news nature and its fearsome effects.

I find (and confess) that I enjoy my own work; I frequently scroll through old posts and re-enjoy a phrase or a sentence or paragraph.  Who among us is without some narcissism?  From time to time I’ll copy some of that and save it in a special folder which might …might … yield a book one of these days, of selected images and comments.  Anyway, it’s been fun and satisfying and I hope to keep cranking them out.  As long as I don’t run out of film …  or words.

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Thanks for reading this!  How about a closing image?

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*  The one essay that I wrote is included as a page (tabs at the top of the home page) rather than as a general post, and I originally only circulated it to some of my photography buddies, seeking their thoughts.  It had to do with coming to terms with my disappointment with what I was shooting.  It’s entitled A Photography Phunk – An Essay.

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A HAWAIIAN VACATION

Vacations can be educational, entertaining, enlightening, exciting, maybe even euphoric in parts.  This one was all of that but it was also exhausting because of all of the sightseeing and the long flights.  Hawaii, however is above all else wonderful and well worth the effort.  The scenery, the culture, the people, the flowers and the music are gentle and beautiful.  Here is what we enjoyed with our morning coffee on our balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach.

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We had flown in to Honolulu and spent the night, boarding our cruise ship the next day.  The ship headed out that night for a seven day inter-island cruise.

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I had taken such a cruise in 1997 aboard the U.S.S. Independence, a handsome, Gatsby-like throwback to the days of luxury cruising, with largely open sides on the common decks (closable in bad weather) such that one felt more a part of the sea and the islands.  Now, a modern, plastic cruise ship with six dining rooms plus buffet, and seven bars (not sure we made it to all of them).  The soft background music throughout the ship was gentle, mellifluous Hawaiian, and the screechy loud noise that defines pop music was limited to the pool decks ( I know, I know…showing my age).  In any event I think the inter-island cruise is the best way to get a convenient, easy taste of several of the islands.

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After a bumpy and rocky overnight cruise we pulled in to Kahului on the island of Maui for a two day visit.  I was relieved that I wasn’t the designated pilot.

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The first of several day tours took us to the Iao Valley State Park where we viewed the lush vegetation, rain-swollen streams and waterfalls, and foliage covered volcanic mountains.  The Asiatic architectural motifs relate to the arrival of Japanese farm workers beginning in 1868 to work the cane fields.  By the time that World War II broke out there were some 41,000 Japanese residents on the islands.

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We also enjoyed the Maui Tropical Plantation with its cultivated displays of island flowers and foliage, some of which we’ve enjoyed at locations of comparable climate.  The Heliconia below (commonly, Lobster Claw) is an example.

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Then, off to Hawaii, “The Big Island” where we tied up at Hilo the first day and Kona, the second.  More tours?  You bet.  A day long outing took us to Volcanos National Park on top of Kilauea Volcano, ranked among the world’s most active volcanos.  The crater rim road took us along the caldera  from which steam and fumes escape from molten rock in the Halema’uma’u Crater below.   In 1997 one saw hot lava pouring into the ocean from a lava tube draining the crater, dramatic as we cruised past at night.  Kilauea is regarded as the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, and she is apparently not presently upset ….maybe just a little steamed.

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This landscape is tough for a landscape photographer.  All of the islands were created as volcanos pushed up from the sea floor, beginning some 5 million years ago (Kauai) and continuing to Hawaii, itself, about half a million years ago.  Continual eruptions of lava and volcanic ash add “land” and elevation to the islands.  The ash provides a soil in which drifting or bird-deposited seeds can establish themselves.  Meanwhile, it is a harsh environment.  In such context the islands’ history of sugar cane and pineapple is impressive.  Incidentally, sugar cane lost out to producers closer to demand, and labor costs drove pineapple to the Philippines.

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Other days, other ports, other tours, other beautiful spots, and bussed back to the ship late afternoons, weary from the day.  One hears that cruising results in weight gain because of the food services.  Au contraire, we lost two to three pounds and we think it was from the daily touring.  It was a relief and a pleasure to sit on our balcony and just enjoy a little cruising.  Here’s a short clip to try and give you the feel of it all, enhanced by Richard Rodgers’ stirring Song of the High Seas.  (Speakers on?)  In my Navy days we called this kind of thing shipping over music.  It was thought it would make one nostalgic for days at sea and want to reenlist.  (I’m still vulnerable.)

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On the last afternoon of our cruise we passed Na Pali Coast State Park, one of Hawaii’s many dramatic sights.  It’s located on the northwestern edge of Kauai and is extremely difficult to reach on its land side.  The scenery may well be reminiscent of Jurassic Park as much of that film was shot on Kauai.  It was a powerful scene.

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Minutes later the wispy clouds moved to give us a magical effect.

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After which we began our return to Honolulu.

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Back in Honolulu for a few more days we continued sightseeing but with a much reduced intensity.  We spent an afternoon touring the Pearl Harbor memorial complex which was a sobering, poignant experience.  We also toured the palace, last occupied by the last ruler of the Hawaiian royalty line, Queen Liliuokalani, forced from power in 1893 by the islands’ agricultural interests supported by the U.S. Marines.

At day’s end our hotel room balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach provided these restful views.

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And as the sun sailed away and our ship sank slowly in the west, with the last drop of the last drink of the last cocktail hour of vacation we bid farewell to our vacation in Paradise.  With the beautiful Hawaiian word for “thank you” we say mahalo (ma-hah’-lo) for visiting this lengthly journal entry, and we say Aloooha!

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There is a gallery of these and more images of the trip.  Click Here.

 

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THE FLOWER SHOW: A MIXED BOUQUET

I enjoyed this year’s Flower Show and I’m glad I went, but … it was kind of blah.  I thought the entrance display was large and colorful but it didn’t have the punch of last year’s England theme with its Big Ben centerpiece.

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The theme was Articulture – Where art meets horticulture, and the entrance display was based on Calder’s mobiles.  Pretty but hasn’t art always been involved in most of horticulture?  OK, maybe not fields of corn stalks but how about wind blown fields of wheat, Whitman’s Seas of Grass?  I had missed the pre-show hype about Articulture.  I didn’t even think about Calder at the opening display and sure didn’t pick up the art theme elsewhere in the show.  I did pass one exhibit made up as an artist’s studio.  It caught my eye because it had an N. C. Wyeth painting on an easel as though a product of the exhibit’s artist.  I thought it was brave to have something of such value just out there in front of all of us.  Maybe it was a print.

I passed an exhibit plot of field brush…wild grasses and flowering weeds, all lifeless gray-brown.  It was as though it was an exhibit left over from last year’s show that hadn’t been watered all year.  It’s the kind of scene we’re trying to get beyond as winter approaches an end.  No beauty.  Art?  I dunno.  It reminded me of a major garden retailer’s exhibit years ago which featured a summer brush patch littered with trash including, as I recall, a toilet bowl and a truck tire.  Why bother exhibiting?

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Here’s an interesting artistic scene; even got some flowers in it.  Said to have been inspired by the work of a Wassily Kandinsky, referred to as the “father of abstract art.”  It made me think of a futuristic solar system.

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The art theme was carried over into the live entertainment: two couples described as vertical dancers.  They pulled themselves halfway to the ceiling on cables and then performed various movements.  Kind of a Cirque Soleil.  Who said Ed Sullivan’s dead?  I was still looking for flowers.

They were there, of course.  The members’ specimens were lovely to look at.  Specialty societies, e.g. succulents, ferns, rock gardens, the Camden Children’s Garden etc.  But the Bonsai Society’s exhibit was an example of my letdown.  In years past this was a ceilinged, somewhat darkened space such that the plants lighted in their niches stood out.  Now it’s wide open and had only a few entries.  Where did they go?  Why did they go?

The biggest exhibit was that of PHS, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.  They had the usual information and cultural assistance booths but their space of things for sale was sprawling.  I wonder how commercial section exhibitors feel about having to compete with their landlord.  Here’s a scene at one of those exhibitors, City Planter (not a paid link; just nice people with nice product), offering plants, planters and garden accents.

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My daughter and I had lunch today and reminisced about shows past (she wasn’t impressed with the show, either).  We remember great plots of pine barrens wild azalea and birch saplings and other flora around dark, moss-edged quiet ponds;  we remember great florists’ displays of outdoor summer parties with tables set with flower extravaganzas;  we remember selected house rooms, decorated with plants and flowers;  we remember sweeping banks of spring flowers around back yard garden huts; we remember kitchen window boxes bursting with hanging petunias and dwarf marigolds.  They weren’t there.

  There were some eye-catching scenes here and there as in this case:

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Well, only 51 weeks to go.

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For a look at last year’s wonderful show, click here.

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WINTER HERE AND THERE

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We’re not gonna see this stuff in July.  Just sayin’.

It certainly has not been a nice winter and I’m looking forward to the Philadelphia Flower Show followed by spring.  But, to stay in the cave day after day is not good either.  A couple of weeks ago we escaped to two favorite antique malls in Redbank.  After antiquing we watched the ice boats and related hardy types enjoying life on the adjacent Navesink River.  These boats are said to be the fastest wind-driven sport craft, easily capable of 50 mph and, if the wind’s right, up to 100 mph.  On my bucket list along with kite-surfing.

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I recently returned to Island Beach State Park, still in search of the Snowy Owls.  I failed again: not even a flash of white feathers as I scanned over the dunes.  Full stomachs dictating naps in the branches?  There were, however, several foxes on the dole.  They actually emerge from the brush when they hear a car approaching.  Here’s Freddy, again.

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And another snowy beach scene.

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Back home I’ve been playing with the contrast between the indoor flowering houseplants and the cold bleakness of winter.  Herewith one of my columneas, happy to be inside.

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On a recent snowing day (one of too many this winter) I was drawn to the same kind of contrast between a constant spring inside and bitterness outside.  The falling snow, however, is one of winter’s best features so I tried to capture a sense of it here, to be reviewed on a 98° day next August.

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On yet another morning we were having a winter mix of snow, sleet and rain.  Yeah, a really nice morning.  But, there was some lemonade to be made.  I was caught by the buildup of sleet at the bottom of a window being pac-manned as it were by the rain drops sliding down the window.  Would I hang this one in the living room?  I doubt it but it’s interesting.

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Don’t go away depressed by winter.  There’s always color in Marty Lou’s greenhouse.

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NO SWIMMING TODAY

No Swimming Today!   This was one of the signs that greeted me as I pulled into Island Beach State Park with the temperature in the 30’s  Well, I had forgotten my swim trunks anyway.

This was only my second visit to this nearby barrier island park and I enjoyed it.  The trip was in response to the great images of foxes and snowy owls being captured on the island by an outstanding photographer, Ray Yeager.

The island is reached via a causeway from Toms River.  The park begins 2.5 miles south of the causeway, and continues on for about 8 miles paved and another mile of beach-walk to Barnegat Inlet.  Along the way are numerous places to park and walk through the dunes to either the beach or the bay.

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Image 02

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The above image is a little soft in the foreground.  I had my 100-400 on in case I spotted an owl and they’re just not good for landscape work.  (370mm, f/16, 1/400, tripod mounted, and composed in live view)

The dunes are impressive compared to those on LBI as they are taller and generally covered with berry-laden holly, scrub pine, white cedar, sassafras and so on.  They reminded me of the dunes called Sandy Hills in Margate where we often played war in my childhood years.

Image 04

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Elsewhere there were eye-catching zen scenes of simplicity and gracefulness.

Image 01

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I drove to the end of the paved road.  I had contemplated a sunset behind Barnegat Light but found that would require a hike along the beach of about 0.8 mile.  I realized that I was missing a camera accessory: a truck whose tires I could deflate in order to drive along the beach.  Must check the B&H Catalog.  I decided the hike would be good for me…but on another day so I drove back up to leave the park and get some lunch.  On the way I passed some fox activity which is one of the things I had hoped to see.  I saw five of them off and on; they were working the road in anticipation of being fed.  The signs, of course, say Don’t Feed the Fox but the foxes don’t read.  One gal had brought a box of hot dogs and was using them to entice a fox which enabled me to get this image.

Image 03

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It’s also a little soft (370mm, f/16 and 1/166th, handheld) so I want to return and try some more.  I also had hoped for a snowy owl shot as Yeager’s are to be envied, and they are such beautiful animals.  I walked a lot of off-the-road trails but nary a flash of white.  I actually did have one in my crosshairs but it asked me if I were Ray Yeager.  When I said no, it gave me the claw and flew off.

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I got back into town (such as it is in February) and found a pizza  place.  I asked the proprietor if he expected a busy Super Bowl Sunday.  He said he didn’t;  “Everyone’s back in New York and nobody lives here in the winter.”

I then headed back into the park as hope springs eternal.  Here are two more typical scenes I found.   The first, an unglamorous drainage cut from the Bird Blind Trail, the second on a beach trail after emerging from the trees.

Image 05

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Image 06

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All in all it was a pleasant and informative afternoon and I mean to return.

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THE CAMPUS CAUGHT A HEAVY COLD

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With my electric blanket and Pearl’s heating pad we survived the storm quite well and awakened to blue sky and puffy clouds and snow on the roofs…….and 6°! !

But, we landscape photographers can not ignore this kind of scene so…….

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The good folks at Medford Leas had the roads and driveways  plowed by 7:30 so I could get out.  I fortified quickly with some breakfast, boots, long johns, a sweater layer and a fresh battery and headed out.  With my balaclava I was good to go except there were slippery icy spots of which I had to be careful.  Along the red trail there were plenty of critter tracks in the snow and even a faint odor of skunk but no deer or big-foot tracks.  No one was using the resting bench, either.

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There were nice things to see along the way, particularly in the warm light of early morning winter sun.

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Over at the nature center green house the heating system was already having its way.

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The plants inside were warm and secure, wondering what all the fuss was about.

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One more stop, at the atrium within the Community Center, and some winterberry that has escaped the birds so far.

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A quite beautiful morning.  Now, back to the cave to enjoy it from inside and with a cup of coffee.

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