I’ve written a tutorial post on my learning experience with a variable neutral density filter.  (How I learned to stop worrying and get decent images.)  It appears as a “Page” i.e. it’s on a pull down tab amongst those at the top of this page.  Enjoy and benefit.

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.
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In addition to the photographs here in my posts I maintain galleries from sixteen years of shooting digitally.  They are organized by topic and can be seen by clicking here.
 

MORE FUN IN THE FOG

In a recent post, Ian Plant, mentor-to-many, said this:

“The collision of moisture and light is where photo magic is made.”

It seemed bang-on for another post about fog and surf. The Jersey shore this spring has experienced more fog than usual.  Up around Sea Bright there was seen a stationary fog bank just off shore that looked like an approaching tsunami wave.  A friend from Avalon, further south, told me that they’ve had a foggy spring as well.  Ours continues along Long Beach Island and while it’s pleasant and rather clear two or three blocks from the beach, the morning fog is parked on the beach and eastward.

Here’s a beach rose (Rosa Rugosa) covered with droplets from the morning fog.

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Soon enough the blossoms age and drop their petals.  Sad but …. life.

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The fog enhances some interesting patterns in the snow fencing of a winding path.

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At the water’s edge my focus (no pun intended) was on the use of a Variable Neutral Density filter to smooth out or homogenize the surf.  (You can read about this — or not — by pulling down that tab at the top of the page … Mastering Variable Neutral Density Filters.)  Here’s one result.  Remember, I’ve not only greatly slowed the shutter speed, it was also a misty scene.

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 Or, from the other side of the jetty….

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I’ll be working this pasture again this summer and fall.  A nor’easter’s waves will call me.

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But, with or without the variable filter, fog offers lots of possibilities for interesting images.  Here’s one that especially pleased me.

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Moral:  “Have a nice day.” is not always a good wish for photographers.

THE 9/11 MEMORIAL

I recently visited the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center, the sixteen acre Ground Zero site in lower Manhattan.  Words and pictures cannot convey its enormity.

I am in awe of the horror which was inflicted.  The newly opened museum creates a sobering, sad feeling of the reality.  It is darkened, suggesting the darkness of the unspeakable event and its effect on people’s lives.  The remnants are there…the collapsed fire engine, the papers, from important contracts to mundane shopping lists scattered about,  the pieces of building wreckage, the wallets, the melted cell phones.  In the background are heart wrenching recordings of calls to 911 and to loved ones.  “The building has been struck by a plane but they tell us we’re safe.”  “The building’s burning, hon, but they’re going to helicopter us off.”  “I’m going to get out of here but I want you to know how much you and the kids have meant to me and I know I’ll see you again.”

I cannot imagine the horror felt by the office workers and the absolutely brave responders.  What does it take to realize it’s over and to jump from the building, one woman even demurely pressing down her skirts as she lept, a final statement of dignity.

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The museum’s lower level is bounded in part by the so-called slurry wall, a wall of poured concrete which continues to hold against the Hudson River.

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I am equally in awe at what has been created in place of the demolished buildings.  The footprints of the collapsed north and south towers have been filled with dramatic pools whose walls are waterfalls, and which drain into smaller central pools.

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They are surrounded by new construction which also reflects surviving older buildings.

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The pools are bordered with blackened steel trim in which the names of all of the victims have been cut.  It is the custom to place a white rose with the name of any victim on his or her birthday.

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Elsewhere on the grounds are other signs of rebirth.  Here is part of the reconstruction of the Transportation Hub, called the Oculus, and suggestive of wings.

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Beneath the Transportation Hub there is the completed West Concourse whose brilliant whiteness is uplifting.

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There are upscale shops opening along the concourse, and it leads to the reconstructed Wintergarden, beautiful and with a stunning view of the Hudson and the New Jersey shore.

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Finally, there is an awesome symbol of the rebirth of the World Trade Center, the 1776 feet tall One World Trade Center.

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Profound Tragedy    ~~~   Rebirth

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A SPRING FOG

My friend, Fog, showed up again.   I haven’t seen him for about a year and a half.  He’s probably been skulking here and there but not in front of my camera until last Saturday.  That afternoon I drove to the shore for an overnight getaway.  As I left the mainland at Manahawkin  the temperature dropped and the fog appeared.  The Ocean County Sheriff’s office had been warning about this, and they were right.  I dumped Pearl at the house and headed to the beach.  Here was the scene at about 5:30.

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It was still light enough to see what was happening but the approaching mists were clearly on the way.  Just to the left of this walkway leading to the beach I was also welcomed by blooms of bayberry.  I don’t remember seeing this profusion before.  They were enjoying the moisture of the mists.

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As the evening progressed the mists crept further into the town, bringing the usual mystery, silence, and dimmed lights.  There is no motion as though the mist absorbs anything that dares move.  I wonder as I write this about the connection between the words mist and mystery.  It’s there.  Later, the view through one of the windows brings out the same feelings.

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At the docks at the foot of the street the fog had also taken charge.  Nothing moved here either except some shimmer.  Even the in-residence Purple Martins were anxious and just hanging out on their perches.

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The next morning the drive to Fred’s Diner was a matter of cleaving through the fog.  At Fred’s there was breakfast and life.  Friends reappeared,  my last view of them having been on Labor Day.  Materialization from the fog?  No, snap out of it.

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After breakfast, a drive south to the tip of Holgate on the edge of the wildlife refuge.  First sight was this sentinel, also a residue of last year.

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The jetty there was taking a beating.

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Down on the sand, the swells were impressive.

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On the other side of the jetty the dampened swells provided only a modest challenge to this young boy, ready for a day on the beach and the fog be damned..

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Fog is fascinating to me.  For my earlier posts on the subject click on the blue titles below:

Fall Fog at the shore – November 2013

Fog, A Little Before Breakfast – December 2011

Fog Blog, A – Beach and bay scenes – September 2010

Foggy Fall Days at the shore – Ole October – October 2011

Fog Fix, A – July 2011 -Beach and bay scenes, Charon fishing, Pearl Street pavilion, Sandberg’s “Fog”.

Fog, Fall at the Shore – November 2013

Foggy Farewell, A farewell to Charleston Moor – November 2011

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WHERE MY CAMERA TAKES ME – II

It would be a cliche to refer to my camera as my flying carpet so pay no attention to this sentence.  My camera, however, does, indeed, travel with me, and I gather scenes along the way.  Typically there aren’t enough to justify a post so once in a while I thumb through that hamper and find some scenes to speak with you about.

A few weeks ago we drove down to Winterthur, always a pleasant trip.  We were early or the March bank was late so most of the daffodils and blue scilla were just watching the weather channel and waiting.  The hillsides, nevertheless, were handsome and there were lots of flowers here and there including crocuses such as these.

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_MG_0684 edited Photo Painting III 640

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I liked the image but it wasn’t a great scene so I “enhanced” it with Topaz’s Impression software filter.  I like it better, now.

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I also liked this Winterthur scene below.  Some of the blue scilla can be seen but mostly snow drops (Galanthus).  What struck me, however, were the tall trees against the dark sky, with last year’s leaves still in place, lit by cross-lighting which is always a more dramatic light (thanks to Kurt Budliger for teaching me that a couple years ago).

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We’ve also been to the beach a couple of times, in fact to a couple of beaches.  I wanted to revisit the Foxes of Island Beach (a good name for a novel?).  My colleagues and friends have enjoyed many excellent captures there this winter and I had meant to get down before the snow melted but life got in the way.  Anyway, a nice visit and here’s one of the results.  I was pleased with this uncropped image taken with my lens at 105mm.

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On yet another day we visited the place where summer lives.  It was a glorious yes-spring-is-coming day.  This scene is from the beach at Holgate.  Please no letters and phone calls about the specular light reflections.  I did use my polarizer but I love this kind of light and I refuse to dampen it all away.  Also, yes, Atlantic City’s casinos should be in the background but it didn’t fit my artistic intent.  Let them get their own photographers.

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Now, what else has happened?  Oh, yeah, spring seems to have arrived here on campus.  I enjoyed this scene this past week as the cherry blossoms emerged.

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Walking on the red trail behind my apartment I found this tree in beautiful bloom.  This was more into the woods and so didn’t have an arboretum name plate.  My best guess is wild cherry but I’m consulting others more knowledgeable.  Regardless of its name it was lovely.

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 Finally for this post, Barbara and I attended a party at Basking Ridge and then elected to drive home through Frenchtown, a pleasant little community on the Delaware River with a bridge over to Pennsylvania.  We’ve enjoyed a visit here before.  One crosses over a small river when entering Frenchtown which continues on to the nearby Delaware.  It takes almost as long to say the name of the river, the Nishisakawick, as it does to drive through town.  It’s a quirky little village with some fun shops and good eating places.

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Just down Route 29 from the village center we found an eclectic shop owned by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, a search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia.  My daughter, Sigrid, knew of it and suggested we visit it.  The shop, more a warehouse, is filled with statuary from those countries, numerous other goodies, and a free fresh popcorn.  On the way out I photographed this Dancing Shiva in silhouette, a symbolic end to a lovely weekend.

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FALLING IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN

I was asked to provide a picture for a forthcoming auction party that benefits the Medford Leas Arboretum, and flowers were suggested.  I reviewed my file of flower pictures and came up with a few candidates.  This one seemed right to me for spring color.

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Image271Tulips in Amsterdam 800

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I’ve always been fond of it because of the bunching together of all those colors.  And, it has a history.  On a 2004 waterways cruise of Holland and its bulbs and bulb places we wound up in Amsterdam for a couple of days.  We lunched one day at an outdoor cafe right across the street from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s principal art museum, which was our post-luncheon destination.

Image265.5 The Rijksmuseum 640

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That bowl of tulips was on a table at our cafe, and its picture came home with me.  Since then I’ve sold a few copies of it and it graces my own walls in (where else) my garden room.  So, now, what to do with it.  I’m still feeling the effects of Karen Messick’s presentation at the Photo Bash a week ago (see the previous post below).  Her subject was impressionism.  I’ve ventured there a few times but it is now to be a more frequent destination.  So, I brought the tulips into Photoshop and fired up Topaz’s filter program, Impression.  After some work and experimenting here is the result which I printed on canvas to enhance the effect:

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Image271Tulips in Amsterdam I Impression 800

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With a white frame and a royal blue mat the canvas is beautiful.

Sigh…in love again.  I might have to bid on it myself.

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RENEWAL AT THE BEACH

While I frequently experience emotional renewal when I visit the beach, this post is not about that.  Instead, last Saturday I attended the all day Photo Beach Bash at Rehoboth Beach, DE, sponsored by the Coastal Camera Club of that area, and I came away feeling a renewed sense of excitement about my photography.  The conference was held at a boardwalk hotel so I couldn’t, of course, avoid walking the beach in the morning before the conference began.  It was the aftermath of Friday’s storm system that had brought snow, sleet and rain to the east.  There were lingering winds, and waves smashing the beach.  As you will read below I revisited this scene after the conference.

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The conference featured four noted speakers from the art:  Karen Messick spoke on Impressionism in Photography; Tony Sweet on Compelling Composition; Corey Hilz on Creative Vision; and Parish Kohanim as keynoter. I was mesmerized by Ms. Messick.  Her emphasis was on impressionism and her work was beautiful.  Her theme was that we should work on creating compelling images.  Suggested techniques included people moving in the scene, swipes and pans, multiple image blending, and others. Had she placed only one image on the screen I could have left feeling happy and fulfilled.  It was a photograph of some wildflowers along an Interstate Highway.  The wind, however, was blowing them about and it proved hard to capture a static image.   So, she slowed her shutter speed and let the wind have its way.  Here is the result:

Copyright Karen L. Messick.  Used by permission.

Copyright Karen L. Messick. Used by permission.

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Ms. Messick was asked about her mentor or other inspiration.  Her first answer is one with which I agreed: Tony Sweet, indeed, the next speaker.  This is my third time hearing Tony Sweet and to look at his work as he discusses it, and it has always been exciting.  Tony is a low-keyed enthusiasm generator whose work and commentary are both wonderful.  A quote: “We are making images, not just taking  them.”  His earlier careers:  a jazz drummer and a professional magician; life’s rhythms and the magic are now in his photographs.  Some key phrases from my notes:  get low for drama, isolate and simplify, create separation to emphasize the primary subject, work your subject, frame within a frame, move around the scene. ______________________________

PARISH KOHANIM

Mr. Kohanim spoke last for the day but had been headlined as the keynoter.  Old fashioned idea;  keynoters are first.  Not this time and it was the right thing to do.  His work and his commentary were inspiring.  I had never heard of him (mutual, I’m sure) but he is a high-end fashion, product, and portrait photographer whose work we’ll see in Vogue and similar upscale magazines.  A typical scene: a beautiful nude is lying supine on a large white sphere.  Another: a Cirque du Soleil acrobat is poised vertically above that sphere (the lady had moved away), supporting himself vertically on his index finger.  (But only briefly.  He was captured with a 1/5000 second strobe as he vaulted across the sphere, touching it briefly in flight.  Kohanim’s presentation included video of this and other setups of his work.)  Another: a beautiful lady in a flowing white gown, standing on the surface of a swimming pool. (Or at least on the surface of a submerged Plexiglas box, the water around her feet stirred up by assistants for the shutter snap.  I must tell you in case you haven’t noticed on this blog:  I don’t shoot much like any of these.  But it was such fun and so impressive to see his creativity at work.

More than that, however, were examples of his philosophy:  As photographers we seek to see the unseen.  We seek to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.  We offer an expanded awareness of the beauty in the world around us.  Forget what everybody else is doing; consistently reinvent yourself; and Be Magnificent Today.  I felt as though I were receiving a half-time pump-up from the coach, and I was ready to go out and win the game.  I could have cheered when he finished.

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POST CONFERENCE

As I sat listening to Messick and Sweet I was thinking that I wished I had heard them before I went on the beach to shoot early Saturday morning.  So, Sunday morning I was back on the beach.  The ocean was rather calm as the storm had moved away Saturday.  Nevertheless I studied the outfall line and tried to think of some different way to capture it.  My final choice was a 1 second exposure at f/8, ISO 400.  Here’s the result: _MG_0570 600

Well, there it is Karen and Tony.  I like it and I’ll try some other things next year.

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Finally, a lot of Karen’s work is of flowers (and it’s a serious understatement to just refer to those images that way).  Anyhow, that moved me to go through the setup process to stage and photograph this abutilon in my sun room jungle.  I made a three shot HDR with my 100mm macro, f/22 and 1±  second, ISO 400, in natural light, and post-processed in CS6.  Looking at it in retrospect I should have used a smaller f stop and thus blurred the background.  Oh well.

On occasion I’ll attach a flower to an email to a friend, kind of a flowers-by-internet thing.  So, this goes to Karen (and Tony and Parish) in thanks for the inspiration.

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THE FLOWER SHOW AND A SNOW DAY IN CONTRAST

I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Wednesday because of the snow storm forecast for Thursday. So did everyone else. I experienced crowds that I hadn’t seen there for a few years. My daughter, Sigrid, went on Thursday, and texted me a picture showing the floor almost empty. Oh well, had I gone I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the road struggle getting home from the high speed line.  Also, I got to enjoy (?) today’s snow storm and the contrast between the two days!

Here’s the opening scene that greeted show arrivals and it was pretty punchy.  A nice welcome to the show, it made me think of a flower-bedecked Rose Bowl Parade float.  The show theme was movies with an emphasis on the work of Disney and Pixar Studios, and I think that it was well executed and well carried throughout the show.  Full disclosure:  I’m a movie enthusiast, particularly with the work one sees on Turner Classic Movies.  Nevertheless I was impressed with the creativity shown in the exhibits.

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Conversely, here’s an opening scene for Thursday’s snow storm.  Yes, there’s a difference.

 

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Here was a large screen on which snippets of famous movies played from time to time with an imaginative sculpture of film and camera in front of it.  This scene:  Bogart saying goodbye to Bergman in the closing scenes of Casablanca.  “Here’s looking at you, kid.”  Made in 1942 I wonder how many who saw this could relate.  Not enough flash-bang to appeal to modern audiences.

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The movies theme was repeated in exhibits throughout the show floor.  I don’t know if these chandeliers were intentional but they certainly made me think of 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Not a pleasant thought as I always thought it was veeerry dumb from a science fiction point of view.  Richard Dreyfus shoveling dirt into his house, subconsciously trying to recreate Devils Tower?  Anyway, a space ship arrives there eventually and it was shaped something like this:

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Back to reality the next day, this was the kind of color (?) and drama that we had to deal with.  As I walked along here I kept stepping into troughs of slush,  the residue of yesterday’s temperatures in the 40’s and rain.

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One of the flower show exhibits could only be viewed through eye holes in the walls around the exhibit.  Inside were mystical sculptures illuminated with black light.  Pretty and interesting.

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The next day we also had sculptures, stark, cold, and not nearly as attractive but, perhaps, more dramatic.

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 Back on the show floor, Hollywood, the home of the stars was evoked with this handsome star on one of the commercial booths.  A booth for horticultural wares?  No, sorry, we’re selling being a middleman on your electric bills.  Anyhow, the star was striking and pretty.

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Well, were there any flowers at the flower show?  Of course there were.  Here’s a collection from the entrance exhibit which will also wind up in my place mat series.

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Not to be outdone, our snow day also included some flowers.

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CAN SPRING BE FAR BEHIND?

It’s less than a week until the Philadelphia Flower Show, and spring is, technically, only some four weeks away.  I’ve been accumulating some winter scenes and I thought I’d better get  them posted.  Not that anyone’s already forgotten about winter scenes, or that morning temperatures can still hover near zero.

I’ve gone out recently with my mind set on trying to capture some scenes that were a little off of the beaten path.  On a recent snow morning this tree’s shadows on the snow caused my shutter to quiver.  I like its patterns, its softness and peace and how it fades away…there is mystery here.

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Down the road at Kirby’s Mill there were plenty of opportunities with the barn-red buildings in the snow.  The first thing I saw as I was only partly out of my car was the reflection of the mill in a window across the street.

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I like this a lot even though there isn’t much winter in the image (naked branches?).  But we too often default to such red-white shots and it wasn’t what I had in mind.  Instead, I wound up with these two from the adjacent pond above the falls, both of which convey the profound cold we’ve experienced.  The first is definitely a genuine still life.

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A trip to the shore was eye-opening.  I had anticipated frozen spray on the jetties but not frozen spume.  The scene was chilling.  ;-)

The frozen spume crunched as I walked on it, and clumps of it were floating on the incoming waves like miniature icebergs.

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On the bay there was no relief.  It’s rare to see the channel frozen over.  I’m told that the fox population in Holgate has increased because the foxes can migrate from the mainland by walking across on the ice.

Sorry. We're not going out today.

Sorry. We’re not going out today.

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The boat landing at the foot of my street was not very welcoming.

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Back home on campus there were places defying the winter’s cold.  Here is a shot from inside the Nature Center, looking out on winter’s work.  The green house was loaded with flats of seedlings.  There will be spring.

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A SNOW DAY

I went to bed last night anticipating a loss of power by morning.  Well, we lucked out again.  A relief for living life but still pretty scenes.  I wasn’t too enthused about going out.  It was still snowing but my camera insisted.  While seriously thinking about it, one of our stalwarts, Kevin, cleared the driveway with his front-end loader so I had no further excuse.  Layers and a balaclava in place I walked out just as another helper arrived with the rock salt.  Life is not tough here.  Anyway, half way down the street this tree caught my eye.  A good start.

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I trudged on, stopping briefly to invite friends out to play (Marilyn and Tommy T.) but they demurred.  They just moved on campus last week: perfect timing considering their home is in blizzard-struck Beach Haven.  Shortly I arrived at the office area and realized that’s the first time I’ve walked there.  The Nandina bushes there had been catching my eye for several days; with the snow it was picture time.  Credit my friend here, Jane Weston, for my knowing what the bush is called.

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Continuing on through the courtyards I found these scenes:

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The geraniums were happy to be inside.

The geraniums were happy to be inside.

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Hey!  Who's dropping this white stuff?

Hey! Who’s dropping this white stuff?

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By the nature center there is a magnificent yellow-berry holly.

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Wending my way back home for a coffee I came across this courtyard with a surviving wreath.

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I’ll take this kind of snow storm any day.

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