ALONE AT THE FLOWER SHOW

The Philadelphia Flower Show was scheduled a week later this year, maybe to beat the seemingly annual Flower Show snow storm.  So, the storm also waited another week.  I had planned the week to include a visit on Tuesday.  Then, Stella moved in.  The powerful nor’easter gathered over the weekend and headed for the north-Atlantic coastal states with predictions of 12″ to 18″ and gusts to 50 mph.  So, a snow day?  Not so said Tuesday morning.  Once again we dodged a bullet.  Much of the storm had stayed to the west and it looked as though I could make it.  Indeed, there was very little traffic on the main highways and, PATCO, the high speed train to the city, was operating every twenty minutes.  There was room on the train for the three of us that boarded.

There’s a flower show this morning? Really?

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Here was the payoff; the display that greets one upon entering the exhibit hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  I and the other nine people seen here were privileged to be overwhelmed by the scene in relative solitude.  Never, never, never in my 60+ years of this show (no, not every year) have I ever felt so privileged.  Tough for PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) and the vendors but such a wonderful, uncrowded experience for us visitors.  When could you ever just walk around, looking up and not worrying about bumping in to someone?  Even when we used to attend the Friday night black tie, preview dinner party there were far more attendees than on this “storm” day.

No jostling necessary.

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As the morning evolved more brave people showed up.  It never became crowded but the tranquility was disturbed from time to time by the show music.  The scene below was the backdrop of the welcoming display.  This was taken an hour after I arrived so you can see it never became congested.

The show’s theme this year was Holland, a wonderful place that Barbara and I have enjoyed on a few occasions.  And, what can be wrong with blooming bulbs all over the place?  Before you play the video below, however, I’d tone down your speakers as the music is not Faure’s Pavanne.  The psychedelic scene, however, with dancing colors and a beat was captivating.

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Speaking of Holland and bulbs and Barbara, here’s a shot from one of those trips.  No, it wasn’t taken at the Flower Show; it was taken in Amsterdam thirteen years ago.  My photo journal; my choice of images.

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The lack of a crowd at the show made it a pleasure for a photographer.  No waiting to get a front row view; no apologizing for my tripod; and time to reflect on a scene.  It was fun.  Here are some of the show highlights.

There were hundreds of these (roses in lavender balls) hung from the ceiling.  Who ever had to do these and get them all together has gone home gibbering to Holland.

 

Here is a more traditional flower show scene.  Fountains and pools always work.  Just add some tulips for this year.

Another traditional kind of water scene featuring falls for fountains.  Some token tulips in the corner.

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This scene screamed Amsterdam as well as many other European cities where bicycles are a big part of life.  I remember hundreds of them parked in front of the train stations.

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 I look forward to next year’s snow day at the Flower Show.

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I SURVIVED RICKETTS GLEN!

Ricketts Glen is a 13,000 acre Pennsylvania state park west of Scranton and north of Bloomsburg, about 30 driving miles easterly from Eagles Mere.  It features some 22 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek which flows down the Allegheny Front escarpment.  I’ve heard about it over the years as a photographic destination, always with the caveat that it’s physically demanding.  Our South Jersey Camera Club field trip co-chairs, Pat W. and Larry L, decided to schedule it for a field trip, and drove out there to scout it out.  Based on that visit their plan was to leave a couple of cars at the bottom of the trail so that we could avoid having to climb the 953′ back to the entrance lot.  Good thinking.

SInce it was a four hour drive there they decided to spread the trip over three days in order to be able to spend a full day in the park.  The first day would take us to some covered bridges en route which Larry and Pat had discovered.  The group left very early the first day and headed for the bridge country.  With age my enthusiasm for such early starts has diminished so I left later after a pleasant breakfast and civilized early morning.  Using Larry’s lat-long coordinates I arrived precisely at the first bridge which was in the middle of a pleasant nowhere.  I enjoyed the bridge on my own but it being late morning the sun was not helpful…lots of glare and bright spots especially from its aluminum roof.  I worked around and came up with this which I liked.

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I moved on and came upon the rest of the group (nine colleagues) trying to make lemonade out of the bright sun at the second bridge. This property, adjacent to the covered bridge, was more interesting than the bridge, and was more workable in the bright light.

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We then headed off to our intended lodging to rest up before trying some sunset and night shooting.  Arrangements had been made at the Crestmont Inn at Eagles Mere, PA.  My family and I had stayed in the original 1899 inn in the sixties.  Besides the mountain trails and the swimming beach one could also join in Sunday night hymn sings in the parlor (no TV so no Ed Sullivan).  The old inn deteriorated in the 70’s and was torn down in 1982, to be replaced by a structure of condominium residences.   Two of the original out-buildings were then converted into suites and dining rooms which we enjoyed for two nights.

After recuperating from covered bridge stress we headed out to High Knob in the Loyalsock State Forest to shoot the sunset.  The night was clear and that doesn’t make for dramatic sunsets but the colors and cloud forms were still beautiful.  (Tech note to colleagues: this was made more dramatic by under exposure.)

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When the residue of twilight was gone we looked to shoot the Milky Way as colleagues of ours had done the previous week in the Adirondacks.  This was disappointing as it just wasn’t dark enough to have the Milky Way jump out at us.  But…good practice.  I do have a shot of the Big Dipper should anyone have forgotten what it looks like.  We returned to the inn where the innkeeper had arranged to provide us with a fine late supper.

The next morning the rest of the group felt it absolutely necessary to get to the Glen early.   First, I enjoyed the innkeeper’s delicious breakfast and then headed off to join them which I did when they were about one-third down into the Glen.  But, here’s where not staying with the group almost added to my work for the day.  They had told me there was a “left” trail and a “right” trail, and the left was the easier and even had steps along it.  So, I marched out of the parking lot and took the trail on the left, marked Highland Trail.  On the trail I stopped and chatted with a ranger who was working on signs.  He advised me that there were no waterfalls on the Highland Trail, but shortly after that there was a marked shortcut to the Glen Leigh trail along the falls where I caught up with the group.  Here is typical of what we encountered over the rest of the hike.

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This video will give you a better perspective on the falls at almost each level.

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The trail?  Hmmm, THE TRAIL!  The “left” or groomed or easier trail was a 4.4 mile hike.  I never did that even when I was a boy scout.  It was steep, narrow, rutted with rocks and roots, and slippery from damp mud and wet leaves.  As promised there were a few steps here and there:  steep, high risers, narrow, no railings, and also slippery.  I kept hoping that the next turn would lead to the down escalator.  I would frequently see my colleagues far below and wonder when we would get to the bottom, hopefully not having slid to there.  In many narrow sections I wound up holding on to branches or even to tree roots exposed along the side of the narrow ledges.  My tripod served as a vital walking stick.  One place was so narrow that they had even installed a 2×10 edging plank.  I don’t know what it would have stopped.  Here’s another example.  The log wasn’t part of the trail but the trail, right next to this flow, wasn’t much better.

This went on for much of the 953′ of elevation down which we climbed, with “flat” trails only up at the entrance and down at the end.    Here and there among the vegetation was something to compete visually with the falls, thriving on the constant moisture and dappled light.

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Difficult, slippery, scary, dangerous but lots of dramatic beauty.

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Still the engineer at heart I calculated that I had lost some 185,000 foot-pounds of energy in climbing down through the Glen.  Conversely, I would have had to expend that much energy to hike back up.  I deferred to the waiting automobiles.

As usual, glad I did it; glad it’s over.

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BACK IN THE CATSKILLS AGAIN

A panoramic view of the lake along South Road by Glen Brook Farm at Roundtop, NY,  a favorite shooting location for our three-season visits to the Catskills.  If you click on the above image you can see it full size.

I recently spent a fun weekend with fellow photographers in the vicinity of Round Top, NY, staying at the Glen Falls House as a base, and venturing into surrounding areas, chasing the light.  The group included shooters from the South Jersey Camera Club, the Cranbury Digital Camera Club, and the Ocean County Camera Club.  As in the past the locations were pre-scouted and the group led by SJCC photographer Denise Bush.  Having been up there in several previous seasons I tried to find new scenes or perspectives as did others.   Looking at some of their creative-eye results I am frequently left wondering “Why didn’t I see that?”  But, that’s part of what makes it interesting.  Click here for some additional images in one of my galleries.

The Glen Brook Farm lake (the pano above) has frequently been a first stop.  It’s a beautiful spot with birches and willows and — viola — the Catskill mountains.  Here are two scenes on which my mind’s eye focused. 

Another place we visit is the All Souls Church.  Because of a blah sky and too much contrast between the church and the sky this image will be useful as a Gothic novel cover.

 Another favorite spot is the mountain-top mansion of Frederick Church, a principal figure in the Hudson River school of landscape painters.  The mansion, called Olana, is named for a fortress-treasure house in ancient Greater Persia (modern-day Armenia), and incorporates Persian, Moorish, and Victorian architecture themes.  The different view this visit: the Coreopsis in the meadow below the house. 

Off then to other pretty scenes.  Below is Bastion Falls which I had only previously photographed from Route 23 which passes it between Palenville and Haines Falls.  This time we climbed down into the path of the water under a Route 23 bridge.  There wasn’t much water flowing so we could do this and it provided a great perspective.

In another field which beckons us every trip I walked out and into a grove of birch trees.  The scene below was captured by moving my camera vertically with a  1/3 second shutter speed.  I then converted it to black and white.

 At Bastion Falls I found the sight and sound of the falls so restful that I recorded a minute of it.  It helps me recapture the feel of the moment.  Please enjoy some of it.

THE CATSKILLS IN THE SPRING – 05/20/10

Bridal Veil Falls

 Above is a scene from my recent (fourth) Catskills trip.  It’s called Bridal Veil Falls and it’s located behind the Glen Falls House (Round Top, NY) where we stay during the weekend trips.  I’ve photographed these at the top but never worked up the enthusiasm to climb down the steep, tripping-root-filled path and cross the rock filled stream bed (my tripod and I are in the stream for this shot)  particularly when the path has been icy.  But, it was time to do it. 

Our weekend  was organized and led by fellow blogger  Denise Bush, who keeps finding new vistas as well as taking us back to favorite spots to be seen again in different light.    

Willow Lake

 Here’s a tranquil shot of a lake bounded by willows and birches and by the Catskill range in the background (not seen in this image).  I was looking on this trip for something other than the streams and waterfalls, and I liked this place. 

After you’ve photographed a particular scene it always pays to look behind you to see what else might be there.  That’s how I captured the scene below, which is the creek continuing on from Artists’ Falls, with the old mill bathed in leaf-green soft light.  For more images from the weekend click here.

The stream and mill below Artists' Falls.

NOT ENOUGH SNOW? OFF TO THE CATSKILLS 3/12/10

Last weekend I joined fifteen other photographers from three New Jersey clubs for two days of shooting around Roundtop Mountain in the Catskills.   Here’s a view of five of the group risking life and limb on snowy and icy slopes, trying to capture the perfect image.

This is the same area we visited last winter and spring, and several of the photographers were repeats from those weekends.  The weather was beautiful; we visited several new sites; and we had fun!

It’s hard not to find beautiful scenes what with running streams, rocks, trees and snow.  The scene below was made late in the afternoon and exploited the motion of the water and the splashes of warm light.

And now for something completely different….a Buddhist retreat with the pagoda, three temples, each complete with recorded chanting, joss sticks, and fresh fruit offerings.  Enchanting!

Below we have a covered bridge over the Artists’ Falls, mostly covered with ice and snow.  The group picture above was taken on the other, down-falls side of the bridge.

Finally, the mountains.  Several more images from the weekend can be seen at my gallery.  Click here.

GREETING FALL IN VERMONT – 10/2/09

 

 

 

Image 02It’s the first weekend in October and Bergie’s in Vermont, seeing my breath on a cold morning for the first time since early spring.  I’ve been coming up here for about forty years but one forgets how  beautiful a place it is.  Driving yesterday up route 100 was a sensory experience as well as a memory jogger: driving through Londonderry; picking up my winter jug of maple syrup from the Vermont Country Store; passing the Weston Playhouse where the antique show is being held this weekend; being pulled to a stop by yet another small lake with gorgeous reflections of the mountainside foliage.

I’m here with a small group for four days of field trip photography under the leadership of the renowned Joe Rossbach of Mountain Trail Photo.  Should be a great experience.  More later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A SPRING WEEKEND OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE CATSKILLS

Over the weekend a dozen photographers (including eight from our South Jersey Camera Club) gathered at the Glen Falls House in Round Top,  NY where we had visited and photographed last February.  Big difference in three months, from -1 degrees F, frozen cascades and icy trails to mid-sixties and wildflowers in bloom.  Here’s a before and after set.

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Some gloom from cloud cover and showers (better light for some pictures) but we were prepared.  Here are some snapshots of the weekend.  You can see nine more studies by  clicking here.

Here’s an old mountain troll at the trailhead leading to Diamond Notch Falls.P1020002 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_MG_1334This was the reward after an up-hill mile of a slippery and rock-strewn trail.  I made the trail hike in February but never got down to below the falls for this view because of the ice, although others did.  I made it this time and it was grand.

 

 

 

 

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Here are some of the wildflowers seen elsewhere on the mountain.  I’m told these are Forget-Me-Nots.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is at the base of a section of the Kaaterskill Falls.  The young school-girls were frolicking dangerously from rock to rock but they did add scale to the falls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are nine additional images in my gallery.  Click here.