Over 10,000 square feet of fruiting, rare and tropical plants, about a quarter of an acre. That’s Logee’s Plants For Home & Garden, and that’s just the retail greenhouses. Previously I’ve purchased plants on-line from them for my indoor garden. On returning from a recent visit to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, however, I realized that their Danielson, CT greenhouses were not that far off of my route home. If I hadn’t had to continue on home to pick up Pearl from her spa I’d probably still be there.
The nursery was founded in 1892 as a cut-flower store. In 1900, however, the founder fell in love with a Ponderosa Lemon Tree which produced lemons averaging 5# in weight. He purchased one of the trees from a Philadelphia supplier and that started the business on the road of fruiting and tropical plants. Amazingly, that tree is still there and still produces fruit.
I had a list of four plants I needed. As to the first on the list, the friendly store clerk advised me that it was sold out. As to the next, a fairly new variety of Flowering Maple, she said that they had a problem with the variety. Someone had sold all the rooted cuttings and then, somehow, sold the stock plant from which the cuttings were taken. She had had to bring in her own plant to provide new stock which wasn’t yet ready. So, I entered Candy Land to find the two I needed, and finally got away later with just the nine that had begged to go home with me.
There are two large greenhouses and two smaller that are open to shoppers. There are two aisles in the larger houses edged by trays of potted-up young plants. You can see both aisles in the above picture. The aisles, in turn, border a central planting area for yet more plants. When I walked into the first aisle, it was overwhelming. For example, down the aisle near where the lady is standing there’s about twelve feet just of begonia varieties.
I’ve been to other nurseries over the years. Locally (Philadelphia area), Longwood Gardens is the premier destination. While beautiful, it is an architectural showplace rather than a retail nursery. Waterloo Gardens in Exton (now closed) used to be a good source of conventional house plants. The exotic Edwardian greenhouse of Ott’s in Schwenksville is also good for (mostly) conventional plants. Tinari’s in Huntington Valley is particularly good for African Violets. Logee’s, however, is unparalleled in its inventory of varieties. Every step brings one to some other desirable item.
Yet another aisle, this one laden with gesneriads …. streps, columneas, nematanthus, gloxinias, achimemes, episcia. Might have to take one of the suitcases out of the trunk.
Well, of course, we did have to leave and return to reality … poorer, but definitely richer. Here’s the lighted flower stand at home with its additions. The begonias had spent the summer in my stall shower at the shore where they did well under a combination of window light and a gro-bulb. They miss the salt air but otherwise seem to be doing well.
I’m having my last morning coffee for the season on my little deck overlooking my beloved bay. I continue packing today and Sigrid will be here tomorrow to help me move back to the winter cave. I have been up there a couple of times since Labor Day and I miss my bay vistas up there.
The early sun is September-warm. The air is still, so much so that reflections of the fragmites plumes are clear in the water. I hear a cricket and a few bird calls, now a flight of honking geese. The marshes are cinnamon with still some thin washes of pale green, resting comfortably, their essence moving into their roots to survive the winter. A lone fisherman drifts slowly with the tide; another passes, speeding south, the boat’s reflection in the still water traveling with it. They are too far away to hear; a blessing this morning.
Few are stirring here. One goes out and returns with a paper. Please, just look around right now, not at the paper.
Life, of course, continues down here but at a greatly reduced level. Next weekend is the annual Chowda Fest after which it’ll get really quiet. Then the speed limits will rise and the traffic lights will go on blink. For those who stay, their essence is also moving into their roots to survive the winter. The Bagel Shack remains open to help with that.
Yes, there are no such vistas back home but life continues with friends, gatherings, events, meetings, projects, a fall getaway and probably a winter getaway. December brings the winter solstice. Since that marks the beginning of the sun’s return I’ve always thought of it as the first day of boating season. That’s a nice thought.
Seeking a change of scenery, I enjoyed an August getaway. This year I returned to old haunts on Cape Cod. For a few years in the 70’s our family vacations were taken at Chatham (inc. 1712) out at the elbow of the Cape and we loved it. At one point I was even studying aerial surveys trying to figure out where to build a summer home but then I was drawn back to boating and the Chesapeake Bay and that consumed the next fifteen years.
In any event here was a sand-in-the-shoes kid leaving his summer shore and heading to another shore? What’s up with that? Well, a change of scenery and new image opportunities. This image, alone, made the trip worthwhile but there were more to come.
That was taken from Skaget Beach (rhymes with stay-get) west of Orleans, and overlooking Cape Cod Bay. The location had been suggested to me for sunsets by the generous proprietor of a Chatham print gallery. I drove there twice, capturing the above on the very worthwhile second trip. On an earlier trip I relived those 70’s years, watching families enjoying an August afternoon on the beach.
On that somewhat dreary day the sun finally switched on through a cloud break at sunset. It provided a powerful back light for these kids eking out the last of a day’s worth of summer memories. Do you remember your kids on the beach? Do you remember yourself?
I based myself just outside of Chatham at a motel that I think was probably also a favorite of the pilgrims. My daily routine began at sun-up at a lookout in front of the Chatham Lighthouse, overlooking Chatham Light Beach and the channel to the Atlantic’s fishing grounds, bounded by the Chatham Bar to the east. Here is that scene. (Techie Note: A five vertical image panorama.)
On a small island of the Chatham Bar opposite me there was a great gathering of gray seals whose population has exploded off the Cape in recent years. I could hear them grunting and greeting and probably complaining about the white shark population which has been drawn there to feed on the seals. It is a matter of concern to the locals, and they’re even running scout planes in search of sharks near the beaches. Shades of Jaws. But, lemons to lemonade, one could buy cuddly sharks at some shops on Main Street.
Oblivious to sharks and other anxieties a group gathered every morning on the beach for yoga. Here they are cheering the new day.
After the sunrise activity at Chatham Beach I would drive to Mill Pond on Bridge Road. Here, the soft,warm morning light on a whisper-quiet pond was irresistible and I visited on several mornings. The scene was disturbed only by the sound of my shutter.
Here’s the rattly wooden bridge (hence, Bridge Road) under which Mill Pond flows out to Stage Harbor and thence to the sea.
Within the pond boats lie on mooring buoys.
Others nearby also await the day’s assignments.
On my rambles around Chatham, Stage Harbor seemed like a good prospect for a sunset scene. The harbor was first visited by Champlain in 1606. He also stayed at my motel. The name, suggesting a harbor to which stage coaches ran, is actually said to be derived from racks on which fish were dried. In any event, I drove around the harbor on a couple of evenings and was finally rewarded with this scene. I was pleased with it because I was able to include the foreground marsh grass, and also to include several of the larger boats on their moorings as well as reflections and some dramatic cloud structure.
The days weren’t all sunrises and sunsets, however. Daily I ranged from one end of the Cape to the other, enjoying the Sandwich Glass Museum, the French Telegraph Company’s 1879 transatlantic cable station, craft shows at Chatham and Eastham, Marconis’ early wireless station, Rock Harbor (inaccessible at low tide), the harbor at Wellfleet, and Provincetown. There I visited with Jeff Lovinger, a great photographer whose work ranges from the Cape to the Far East. I took a worthwhile workshop from him in 2010 and still keep in touch with a couple of F/B photo buddies from the workshop, Allyson Howard and Patty Wright-Ferrini. Jeff and his wife operate the Lotus Guest House and a pleasant little gallery on Commercial Street. We sat in the gallery and talked about photography art and business while gentle breezes slipped through from the street to the harbor. I then strolled around P’town which is interesting and charming. This image sums it up.
Aside from the Cape Cod seashore scenes there’s also much to see which says traditional New England.
The Chatham Lighthouse holds a special memory for my family. In one of those early visits I was admiring a gold ring at a craft show and my wife was urging me to buy it. In those salad days we could only afford vacations with my annual tax refund from over-withholding, and there wasn’t much to spare. I had an uncle, however, who had just passed away and I was the beneficiary of a small insurance policy of his. My wife encouraged me to buy the ring with that and I did. Ever after the ring (bright, shiny) was referred to as Chatham Light. Here’s the real lighthouse, built in 1877:
My final memory of the week: The dying embers over Cape Cod Bay.
We’ve all heard it: September’s the best month at the shore. Weeellll, yes and no.
This morning’s forecast was for showers to be followed by steady rain. We decided to get a beach walk in before the showers and although one’s tan wasn’t going to benefit, it proved to be an interesting, fun time.
We enjoyed watching a kite-surfer which is still on my bucket list. I thought it would be a shoo-in for the competition category, “Stopped in Mid-air”, but he left the water too soon. Here he is trying to put it away, a lot of work.
There were others enjoying the no-rain morning, and the water, though rough, was comfortable.
There were a couple of guards on duty (through 9/14) and I imagine they were grateful for something to guard.
As Barbara remarked, there were almost as many birds as people. One of these was screeching, “OK you people. Go home!”
There was also another old bird saying “Happy Season’s End.”
Big discovery: Labor Day’s only a week away. Other signs: mums and ginger snaps at the Acme. Time to get a few more summer snapshots on the table before fall arrives. Here’s another sign of the end of the season: The Purple Martins have left and their cousins, the swallows, are en route. They rest here, review their flight schedules, and also head south. Most of us at the shore also migrate and soon we’ll be heading west and north.
Earlier in August the Purple Martins were still around. Here’s one heading home.
Yet another sign of that brick wall called season’s end is the annual Quill-McCarty round-the-island trophy race for the kids. Against a stiff headwind they clawed their way up Liberty Thorofare yesterday on the last leg of the race. Somebody won.
We had a lot of excitement this summer about Super Moons, and I pursued them as well. This one’s been tweeked a little to bring out more moon detail.
The above image is just about maxed out as far as showing both the moon and an interesting foreground so then one starts to look for other possibilities. In this one, we know there’s a powerful moon up there somewhere and we enjoy its effects from another perspective.
Here’s yet another perspective of the moon’s effect on the beach.
This summer I also experimented with using a slow shutter speed to photograph wave action around a jetty, hoping for a creamy effect. I neglected to compensate enough for the longer exposure and the result was this “blown-out” scene. We prefer, however, to give it a fancier description and thus be able to charge more for it. Hence, what you’re seeing is a high-key image. That’s artier.
One of the summer’s great memories is the annual Twilight Sail party. Here’s one of my favorites. I was also pleased that it was selected as the background for another major event’s invitation.
Finally, it’s been a great summer, and I salute it: I hope it’ll come back again next year.
….. on the dock with a coffee … watching the boats leave for the races … Bobby and Sigrid crewed yesterday on the A-cat, Spyder … three races, three wins … Maddie and Gretchen take their places today … but, no pressure ……
….. powering out to the sailing grounds … a glorious morning but no wind … becalmed … waiting …
….. finally, some wind, and the sails go up …
….. later, on the beach … hot sun … a nice breeze from the southeast … watching others sunning, playing, surfing … sand castles and sand pits with futile embankments against the tide … the umbrella’s shade feels good … the buzz of others enjoying the afternoon … watching the sanderlings flit about … reading a book … nattering with passing friends … the inevitable beach nap, a fade from this view …
….. the freshening shower … the freshening ice-cold Gin and Tonic … some dinner … back to the beach for the Supermoon … lots of chatty people there to see it … underwhelming … but a striking reflection …
….. where did you go today? … out …what did you do? … nothing ……… and what a pleasant day it was …
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.
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,.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The streams were running heavy, producing foamy cascades on their way to the Hudson River Valley, overwhelming former mountain trolls such as this one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were a little early for spring flowers but the lilacs bloomed in profusion and filled the air with their fragrance.
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.
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″.
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.
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.
A late, great dinner at the Apple Valley Family Restaurant in charming Milford finished the day.
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 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.
The early morning light on this deserted place of former life led me to see these trunks in a dark way.
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.)
Moving on, another forgotten farm included this left-behind, peeling canoe. How many happy times was this enjoyed on the Delaware?
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 pig barn stands although the doors and windows are memories as are the pigs.
*[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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m looking forward to trying focus stacking on landscapes.