A Show at the ArtCentric Gallery in Troy

May 19, 2011
The ArtCentric Gallery at 274 River Street in downtown Troy, New York will be showing some of my prints in the upcoming weeks.
The show goes up the afternoon of May 24 and the opening reception is on Troy Night Out, Friday May 27, from about 5-9. Join me at the reception for some refreshments and conversation.

Among the printsI’ll be hanging is the above composite panorama created from images made at the pond on our property in the winter of 2011. It has been made into a 19×54” gallery wrap poster. There will be some other gallery wrapped canvass prints along with some conventionally matted/framed prints (most are 18×24) from my wildlife and landscape collection.

I’m going to offer some very special pricing on all the pieces in the show as well as some matted prints, note cards, and some wildlife and floral prints on ½” FoamCore.

I’m grateful to Debra Lockrow, owner of the ArtCentric Gallery for hosting this show.

Sand Lake Center for the Arts – Thank You!

May 3, 2011

Thanks to all the folks who came out on a beautiful Sunday (May 1) to hear my talk on travel photography at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts in Averill Park, New York. It was my second presentation at the SLCA and each trip has been a real treat. I hope everyone enjoyed the afternoon, I know I did.  If you’re not familiar with the SLCA visit the website and check out the terrific programs they offer our region.

For the folks that visited me on Sunday, here is a link to a PDF version of my Travel Photography presentation. Be advised that those parts that were animated will not work after the conversion to PDF.  Hopefully the visible image on each of those slides will remind you of what followed.

Also, enjoy the sideshow below featuring more images from Yellowstone NP, Wyoming.

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I mentioned a brand new application for the Apple iPad™ – called Photosmith™.  Just out, this application addresses the issue of storing and organizing images while traveling. Now, this IS NOT a photo editing tool (at least not in this early  release). It is, however, a very low-cost professional-quality application for the very portable iPad. It is clearly intended be a ‘front end’ for Adobe’s Lightroom™ application – so if you aren’t using Lightroom this may not be a product for you. Personally, I’m going to watch Photosmith awhile and see how it evolves. Take a look at this review of Photosmith done by noted photographer and writer Rob Galbraith.

Again many thanks again to Alice Howard and the SLCA for hosting me for the afternoon.

A Home-Made Monitor Hood

April 4, 2011

Computer imaging work, like any other shady enterprise, is best done in a dimly lit room! But, after a long winter with shades drawn to hold in heat one yearns for open windows and a sun-dappled workspace. There’s also that whole vitamin D issue.

My Digital Imaging Workspace

 So, the other day I determined to stop living like a mole, let in the light while keeping it off my computer screen at the same time. I think I’ve done it. The solution set consists of the judicious positioning of the window shades in the immediate vicinity of my desk, and the addition of a monitor hood.

 I was quickly put off by the cost of the commercial varieties. Granted they are elegantly designed, but pretty pricey. About 30 minutes of scrounging around the matting and framing area of the shop turned up the tools and materials needed to make a perfectly functional hood at virtually no cost.

 Here’s what’s needed – razor knife, Velcro dots, straight edge, measuring tape, scraps of 3/16” black mat board (I use this for backing large matted prints), and some black gaffer (or duct) tape. Take a look at the accompanying photos, and you’ll get the idea of how quickly one of these can be fabricated and installed.

Hood Being Fabricated

I love it when a simple solution actually works. Oh, and I might just use the money I saved to buy some 18% gray-card-colored  paint for the walls behind my desk!

Hood Installed

Chance Favors the Prepared Mind

April 4, 2011

Or so the saying goes. I’ve learned the hard way to keep a camera handy. Wildlife action is hard enough to capture without fumbling around for gear as the critical moment comes and goes.


The whitetail deer that call our property home love to take short-cuts across our pond after winter turns it into an icy meadow. The yearlings take particular delight in an acrobatic dash from one side to the other. When I noticed a small band of yearlings poised to do just that, I grabbed some gear and headed out the back door, adjusting camera settings as I went.

By the time I got in position, they had already started across and quickly broke into the deer equivalent of a cantor. Getting the whole group into a shot wasn’t practical at that point, so I picked out the trailing animal, got a good focus lock, started to frame, pan, and shoot. Frankly I wasn’t sure what I had at that point, but later examination revealed a goodly number of keepers.

 Images of this type are usually presented as a sequential set of individual images, but I was struck by the fact that the group had pretty much all followed the same track, and the background was uniform in each shot – just an expanse of snow. I wondered what would happen if I tried to create a panorama. The automatic merge in Photoshop worked fairly well, but additional work was needed to blend the match lines, and smooth the background. 

 I’m pretty tickled by the result (remember this is the same animal in different positions). Call it serendipity, dumb luck, or whatever you conclude it is. Sometimes it just happens that way. Photography is a fortuitous enterprise after all.

 For the record – Canon 7D,100-400@400mm, ISO 800, +1EV, 1/2500:F5.6, Images imported and adjusted in Adobe Lightroom 3.2, and merged to panorama in Adobe Photoshop CS4.

April Fools’ Day

April 2, 2011

Snow in the northeast in April is certainly not uncommon, but it’s never welcome and when it hits us on April 1; you just can’t let that pass without comment.

 We awoke on April Fools’ Day to the site of snow dappled trees across the pond. We only got a few inches, but it was enough to bewilder the geese and ducks that had just started returning. They glided along close to the shoreline wondering if they hadn’t ventured north a little too early.

 Blurred shots of the landscape are all the rage these days, and I have to confess I like them a lot. What I find most fascinating is the chance to obscure some of the details, but reveal more of the essence of a scene at the same time. Seems a bit contradictory, but what comes through are the essential shapes, textures, and colors.

 This scene was so close to grayscale already, that turning it into one seemed a ‘no brainer’ a hefty increase in the contrast made the whole scene seem as bleak and stark as it made us feel. Where’s spring!

 For the record – Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200:f2.8 lens at 200mm, 1/6 second @ F22, RAW capture processed entirely in Adobe Lightroom 3.2.

Full Moon – March 2011

March 29, 2011

No, I didn’t miss the recent lunar phenomenon. Quite the contrary, I spent more than the usual amount of time considering locations and visualizing images.

 The full moon of March 2011 was different. The moon’s orbit only brings it so close to earth every 20 years or so. Now, I’m not an overly morbid person, but I couldn’t help thinking that I might not witness this event again. A sobering thought that gives one perspective and adds some urgency to the endeavor!

 I’ve always thought that images which include the moon need to have a strong foreground. So, I decided to get myself up high. This I reasoned would allow me to see the moonrise early on, should provide a variety of foreground subjects, and give me time to regroup if things just weren’t working out. There are only 2-3 days when the moon is symmetrical enough to appear ‘full’ and the moon rises some 30 minutes later on each of those days. So, to maximize the relation between moonlight and ambient light, it pays to hedge your bets.

 This image was taken from atop a hill behind the farm where our horse is stabled and where my day ended. While scouting around the ridge top, I came upon the carcass of a dead whitetail deer. It appeared to be a young animal; not a fawn, but probably less than a year old. It was likely not killed by a predator; but may have been sick or injured and died of exposure over the winter. Coyotes had apparently benefited from its demise cleaning the bones completely in the intervening months.

 I didn’t miss the irony of witnessing a sight the young deer was never to see. Everything seemed to perfectly fit – the waning daylight, the ascension of the moon, and the quiet carcass of the deer. It was a time of passing and I knew I had the elements of the image I wanted.

Equine Advocates – Winter 2011

February 22, 2011

I’ve been hooked on the Equine Advocates operation ever since photographing Bobby – the rescued carriage horse. Visit the Equine Advocates website and learn more about this worthiest of causes run by Susan and Karen Wagner in nearby Chatham, New York.

There is something about horses in winter that fascinates me. I returned to Equine Advocates several times during the winter of 2010-2011 taking advantage of the classic northeast winter we had this season. The horses stand out beautifully against the fresh snow. The slide show below is what I consider to be the best of the take this year.  Full disclosure: there are 30+ slides in the show – enjoy!

 Expect to see more posts about horses.  My wife Marlene has returned to riding after many years away from it. Her mount, and new best friend, is “Blizzard Blues” more about this equestrian team in a later entry.

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The Goose Family Endures

February 21, 2011

 The entire cycle of life can play out even in a world as small as our pond. You may recall the surprise arrival of goslings at our place in the summer of 2010. Things were going well for them until the morning one of the six goslings was missing.

My wife took a walk down to their usual overnight spot and discovered the dead gosling lying in the grass. There was no sign of a predator, and the little one’s body didn’t seem disturbed in any way. We surmised parasites or a blocked esophagus, but we’ll never know for sure. The female was very upset for most of the day. Seeming to blame her mate, she repeatedly chased him away from the brood honking and flapping her wings.

By evening the couple was reunited in the shared responsibility of child care. The goslings daily grew by leaps and bounds. Flying lessons commenced in late July. Takeoffs were mastered quickly – formation flying and landings, not so much. Face plants were pretty common and often the youngsters would wind up spread all over the pond. A group meeting and individual critiques followed each flight, and each youngster rapidly improved. As fall set in the young geese were indistinguishable from the parents in every respect.

The family stayed well into November frequently flying to nearby lakes and fields to build stamina and socialize with other groups. Sometimes our family would return in the evening, or they might be gone for a couple of  days.

As long wings of southward flying geese began to appear in the skies overhead, the family became more restless. The photograph to the left shows the lead adult lifting off from our pond on one of the last days we saw them.

I’m looking forward to the spring of 2011 in the hopes that a pair of geese who seem familiar with our pond will drift in to reminisce and perhaps reestablish residence for another season.

The September Surprise

February 20, 2011

She first came to visit in mid August, a small, delicate, and timid black cat with stunning green eyes. She would hover around the back porch waiting for food, devour as much as she could, and dart away. More often than not she would come back 3-4 times a day. No matter how much she ate, she never seemed to be satisfied. Eventually she tolerated being touched, but would become nervous after just a few minutes – guilty at being distracted from some more serious purpose.

One warm September afternoon – the little black cat arrived with four kittens in tow. Still nursing, we guessed they were perhaps 4 weeks old. The reason for their mother’s voracious appetite was clear. Barely more than a kitten herself (later learned she was less than a year old) we guessed she had been struggling to keep herself and her little family fed. Likely feeling overwhelmed she had decided to take her chances with us.

 All females and well under a pound, we named the kittens (two all black and two tigers)  Midnight, Bella, Stormy, and September. Mom was designated Sophia for her luxurious fur, grace and elegance. For a few days, we kept them on the porch in an improvised shelter while we regrouped. Daily feeding and play delighted the kittens and got Sophia used to our helping care for her offspring.

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We moved the family into our heated garage, laid out some sleeping berths and hastily put together a kitten-sized jungle gym form some cardboard boxes and planks. Some ‘chase me’ toys were scattered about and the kittens were in heaven. Sophia finally got a chance at some rest and her demeanor changed overnight. Content that her kittens were safe, she became completely comfortable being held and groomed.

I’m happy to report that all the kittens are now spayed, inoculated, have loving homes, are heavier and happy. We decided to keep Sophia for our own. She’s become an adorable companion not only to us, but our older cat Rebecca II.

We suspect One-Eyed Jack may have had something to do with all this – he’s the only tiger in the area. As to if confirm Sophia (now spayed herself) growls every time he comes to the window and peers in. Jack – really, and at your age!

Kodachrome – An Enduring Legacy

February 11, 2011

Plenty has already been said about the end of the Kodachrome era in late December. Here’s a spin on it that I haven’t read much about elsewhere.

While Kodachrome’s exquisite color quality, dye fastness, and fine grain are the foundations of its legacy; we should also celebrate its sheer longevity as a brand and the elegance of it’s design. At a time when almost nothing in popular culture endures for long, Kodachrome lasted for almost 80 years. When you consider that the entire history of modern photography is arguably only twice as long; it’s an enviable achievement.

The brainchild of two Kodak engineers (musicians turned scientists), Kodachrome was first released as 16mm motion picture film in 1935, with still camera versions following the next year. What to me is completely remarkable is that the film and processing technique changed very little over its entire life, save for the gradual increase in speed from ISO 10 to 200.

Kodachrome recorded some of the most iconic images of the 20th century – the Hindenburg explosion, Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest, The assassination of John Kennedy. Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl”, shot on Kodachrome, is National Geographic’s most recognized cover.

Film has now largely disappeared from the world of still photography. I think it fittingly ironic that Kodachrome hung in until the very end. As I ponder the ascension of digital photography, which seems to thrive on accelerated obsolescence; I have to wonder what modern developments will mean as much, or last as long.