WHERE MY CAMERA TAKES ME

I’m pretty much a landscape/seascape photographer with only an occasional departure from my comfort zone.  There have been some of these moments recently and I thought I’d share them.  The first was in Philadelphia in December.  In looking around, this crazy-mirror image of city hall caught my eye.  Were I a pigeon I think I’d also prefer a flat ledge.

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On that same day I experimented with street photography.  The idea is to capture people in their reality, hopefully showing some emotion-inducing aspect of their lives.  I’m not a street-photographer.  It’s intimidating; I feel as though I’m intruding into the subjects’ lives, and that it could prove embarrassing.  It’s anomalous that I’m reluctant because most of my early exposure (beginning in high school years) was to the work of great street photographers such as Cartier-Bresson, Eugene W. Smith, Edward Weston, Dorothy Lange, etc.  on the pages of Popular Photography magazine.  I saw myself in the future as a Weegee (Arthur Fellig) or a “Casey, Crime Photographer” chasing the grit of New York with my Speed Graphic.

My effort that day in Philadelphia was because I had to have entries for the Street Photography competition category at the camera club.  Later I found that the category was only for prints rather than for projected digital images which is my preferred category.  Anyway, here’s one of the results that day:

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I offer no comment on the image other than that I felt sorry for him, and there is sadness and need in this world.

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After the stress of Christmas I always like to get away for a few days.  This has typically been to Williamsburg and a return home through Chincoteague but this year I wanted something different.  I went instead to Harpers Ferry just across the border between Maryland and West Virginia.  I can well imagine your excitement at this news.  🙂

Well, once again, the family had visited there, probably in the late 60’s and I remembered a certain charm.  It lies between the Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers which converge at the tip of the town from which the surviving Potomac continues on its way to Washington and thence to Chesapeake Bay.  Because of its strategic location, the train lines and bridges, it was occupied by both Confederates and the Union, the ownership shifting several times during the Civil War.

Potomac left and ahead

Potomac left and ahead

The train tracks seen above coming thru a tunnel in Maryland Heights are for Amtrak on the left, and CSX on the right.  I didn’t have to wait long to enjoy this thundering freight train headed west.

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Sometime in the recent past, on a visit to the Forsythe Refuge  I photographed a flight of snow geese.  The result was as confusing as a flight of birds can be but as I studied it I saw the picture within the picture seen here.  I loved the composition but….it was fuzzy because of their motion and having been cropped out of the original.  So, I applied Topaz’s Glow with a pleasing result.  So, here’s an image cropped out of a larger one and then further obscured with some software artistry.  I like what’s left.

Snow Geese cover

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It’s Monday which is always a downer for me, and it’s raining.  Fortunately, there’s some color in the house.

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Last week I received an email from a friend here on the campus, telling me that there was a white flower blooming outside her apartment.  What!?!  How could anything be blooming in this nasty cold weather?  I walked over and found it, a Hellebore or Christmas Rose, an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the ranunculus family.  I was on my tummy to capture it, and pleased that I could get up without calling campus security.  I didn’t stay long because in witchcraft it is believed to have ties with summoning demons.

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Finally for this post, last Saturday found us at a familiar site overlooking the East Point (of the Maurice River) Lighthouse.  I keep returning here and I’ve never been disappointed.  This visit’s view was made dramatic by the ice and the shadows created by the low hanging sun.  Beautiful, but oh, with a sharp wind from the northwest, it was colddddd.

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Many of us photographers present a year-end post of our best shots from the previous year, and I’ll be doing that for 2014.

Looking back in 2015, however, I think the above lighthouse scene is my best shot of the year.  😉

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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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THE SECOND SEASON

Last fall I was ordering some houseplants from Logee’s, a supplier of a broad range of unusual varieties.   While looking at all of the goodies I wondered where I could possibly grow/display more of them in my new townhouse.  Then it hit me…..a light garden, and here it is:

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This was a reawakening of a long term interest.  I’ve always enjoyed gardening.  I began to grow summer flowers in a window box outside my room at college, and attended my first flower show while in college in 1953.  After marriage and moving in to navy housing I went nuts with gladiolus in our 2′ x 4′ plot.  Then I tried raising snapdragons from seed.  I didn’t think they looked quite right so I asked a knowledgable friend who looked at the flat and pronounced them to be healthy chickweed  seedlings. 

At our first apartment in civilian life I built shelves for a bay window and filled it with house plants.  Shortly after that we moved into our first home which featured a large back yard.  I carved it up into small gardens and set out to raise the necessary dozens of seedlings under flourescent lights.   Here’s that early setup, circa 1965

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That worked so well that I built a three-shelf-high, 4′ x 8′ planter equipped with twelve 4′ long, dual-tube flourescent light fixtures so that we could enjoy flowering plants in the winter….the second season.  I raised all manner of gesneriads, impatiens, balsam, browallia and begonias which do well under low light levels, but I also brought stock and dwarf marigolds to fragant bloom along with other summer annuals.  It was about seventy-five square feet filled with color in the harshest depths of winter.  A business partner once told his secretary that when he died he wanted to be laid out in my basement.

I moved it to the basement of our next home and kept plants going in it and then in successor wall shelves for some thirty years.  I toiled through infestations of leaf and soil mealy bugs, spider mites, scale, cyclamen mites, red spiders, root rot, and mildew but I was finally brought down by thrips.  I just couldn’t get all the plants cleaned at once so I threw in the towel except for a two shelf cabinet in the family room until I moved last year.  If any of them showed problems they were evicted.  Tough love.

So, now I’ve started up again, and it’s a joy to walk into the sun room in the morning and see all the plants, vigorous, in bloom, perhaps even purring.  What triggered this post was the Streptocarpus shown below.  From flowerless it has burgeoned with over two dozen blooms.

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Also exciting for me is this Abutilon or Flowering Maple.  I used to see it in the Park Seed Co. catalog but had never tried it as it’s a full sun plant.  But, my friend, Nancy B., has a large specimen growing in her sunroom so I thought I’d try it.  It has done well under the lights, rewarding me with a few unusual blossoms.

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This Columnea (Gesneriaceae) is another joy for me.  I had this particular variety for most of my years of light gardening, keeping it going by taking root cuttings and developing them.  But it also fell victim to the thrips and, finally, my tiring of that struggle.  Then I found it in the Logee’s catalog and invited it to come back home.  The colors make me think of candy corn, and the blooms, of some exotic dolphin leaping from the water.

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